“If the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran, that deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons—it will all but guarantee that Iran will get those nuclear weapons —lots of them,” he said. In the most anticipated speech to the US Congress by a foreign leader in years, Netanyahu said Iran’s regime was “as radical as ever,” could not be trusted and the deal being worked out with the US would not block Iran’s way to a bomb “but paves its way to a bomb.”
The speech escalated Netanyahu’s campaign against President Barack Obama’s Iran diplomacy, putting unprecedented stress on the two leaders’ already strained ties. Although given the cold shoulder by the US administration, Netanyahu on Monday offered an olive branch, saying he meant no disrespect to Obama by accepting an invitation to speak to US lawmakers that was orchestrated by the president’s rival Republicans. He said the US should not lift sanctions until Iran “changes its behaviour”, a comment that could stiffen support among Republicans to maintain US sanctions on Iran or seek to escalate them.
He added that the drop in oil prices put the US and other countries in a stronger position to negotiate with Iran.
“Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse of the price of oil.”
Boehner, whose unilateral invitation to Netanyahu triggered the diplomatic storm, said on Tuesday he expected a capacity crowd to hear the speech and played down any divisions. On Monday, Obama appeared to wave off any prospect that the bedrock US alliance with Israel might be ruined by the rancor. Netanyahu, a right-wing politician who has played up his security credentials ahead of a closely contested 17 March election in Israel, has denied his speech would have any design other than national survival.