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Tags: Israel | Iran | nuclear program

Israel's Regev: Iran Nukes Threaten the World 'We Can't Allow it to Happen'

By    |   Friday, 03 April 2015 09:24 AM EDT

Iran's deal with the United States and other world powers is "a step in the wrong direction in a very dangerous situation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief spokesman, Mark Regev, said Friday morning.

"The deal leaves Iran with an enormous and extensive nuclear infrastructure," Regev during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "It doesn't close down, not even one uranium nuclear facility, not one."

The deal will leave Iran with thousands of centrifuges, and will allow it to continue to enrich uranium, while working on research and development to make centrifuges that are even more efficient and quick, all of which are matters of concern, Regev said.

But the even bigger area of concern is "this is a regime that is exporting its version of the Islamic revolution to Iraq, to Syria, to Lebanon, and as you know very well, to Lebanon, to Yemen as well," said Regev. "This is a regime that says my country should be destroyed. Now they want the nuclear power to implement that evil design. We can't allow it to happen."

A nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the United States as well, Regev said.

"Why is Iran building intercontinental ballistic missiles?" he said. "They're not building them to attack Israel. They can do that. They are building intercontinental ballistic missiles to hit … targets in the United States. They're a threat to you, too. We can't in any way, I think, underestimate the danger of an Iranian regime, a regime committed to the export of the Islamic revolution with nuclear weapons."

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded Friday that any nuclear agreement signed with Iran must endorse Israel's right to exist, while also insisting pressure be kept up to ensure a sound deal is reached.

While calling the emerging deal a bad one, he said the choice was not only between a bad deal or war.

"There is a third alternative - standing firm, increasing the pressure on Iran until a good deal is achieved," he said in a statement.

And "Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel's right to exist."

While Iranians celebrated in the streets over the deal, Netanyahu called a meeting on Friday with top ministers to discuss the deal agreed for Iran's nuclear program, after voicing "strong opposition" to President Obama.

Netanyahu told the president that a final deal based on the current agreement "would threaten the survival of Israel," while legitimizing Iran's nuclear program and increasing Iranian "aggression and terror."

He also said "it would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it."

"It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation and the risks of a horrific war," he added.
Iran and world powers announced on Thursday that they had come to an initial agreement on the main tenets of the deal. It includes a timetable for lifting sanctions and shifting the function of Iranian nuclear facilities.

The details of the framework deal need to be finalized by June 30. A final deal is expected to slash Iran's bomb-capable technology while giving the country improved access to assets and markets blocked by international sanctions.

Hundreds of Iranians took to the streets in Tehran early Friday to celebrate a breakthrough in talks with the West that may end the country's 12-year-long nuclear crisis.

The capital's longest street, Val-e-Asr Avenue, was lined with cars as drivers sounded their horns in approval of a framework deal intended to lead to a comprehensive agreement with world powers in June.

"Whatever the final result of the negotiations, we are winners," 30-year-old Behrang Alavi said on Val-e-Asr at around 1:00 am as the noise reverberated around him.

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Regev said that the monitoring of Iranian's activities is "highly problematic," not a benefit for Israel's security interests.

"We have seen, and I think you would probably agree with this, we have seen over the years monitoring is highly problematic when you're dealing with authoritarian, totalitarian regimes committed to concealment," he said. "There's a whole question what to inspect, where do you inspect, what do you know, what do you not know? And to base your defense, the defense of my country, the defense of the region, and the defense of the United States on inspectors when their value is at least questionable, we think is very precarious."

The alternative to making a deal with Iran, Regev said, is to keep up pressure until a "good deal" is reached that "does significantly roll back Iran's nuclear infrastructure, a deal that insists on a change of Iranian behavior."

Such a deal would also call for Iran to stop its aggression in the region, said Regev.

"They must stop their aggression in the region," he said. "They must stop their global support for terrorism, and they must stop calling for my country's destruction. That's a good deal."

Other Israeli ministers have also expressed concerns.

Iran "received an official kosher stamp for its illicit nuclear program," said Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett. The deal "paves the way for Iran to eventually obtain a nuclear weapon, to further destabilize the Middle East and to continue spreading terror across the globe. Deal or no deal, Israel will do what is needed to protect itself and its citizens," he said.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that all options were open.

"If we have no choice, we have no choice…the military option is on the table."

But experts have warned that Netanyahu's options are limited and military action is unlikely.

"After the entire world signed on an agreement with Iran, I don't see Israel striking Iran nuclear facilities tomorrow morning," said Joel Guzansky, the former head of the Iran desk at Israel's National Security Council.

"It will be seen as jeopardizing global security. However, if the Iranians were caught cheating, then it's a different ball game, then you have the legitimacy to do other things."

Another expert, Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of Israel's strategic affairs ministry, suggested that Netanyahu would continue to keep up pressure until the final accord is agreed but that talk of military action will not necessarily result in action.

"As long as you have a credible military option, the Iranians will be very careful to not put you in a position where you will have to use it," he said.

Netanyahu's rhetoric has been less focused on military action as of late, according to Emily Landau, an expert on nuclear strategy and arms control at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"There is definitely a change in the nuance, the rhetoric has changed," she said. "We no longer hear these insinuated threats of a military attack [on Iran's nuclear facilities] from Netanyahu," she said.

Regev said it's important for Israel to continue to state its case "because this for us is a matter of the fundamental security of all our citizens [and] our country. Iran [with] nuclear weapons is a dire threat."

He said that important major Arab countries share Israel's view on the issue of the agreement with Iran, and "when we agree, it's time to pay attention."

Material from Bloomberg News and AFP was used in this report.

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Iran's deal with the United States and other world powers is "a step in the wrong direction in a very dangerous situation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief spokesman, Mark Regev, said Friday morning.
Israel, Iran, nuclear program
Friday, 03 April 2015 09:24 AM
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