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Netanyahu calls Iran deal a historic mistake

isrealIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a nuclear deal concluded between major powers and Iran on Tuesday was “a historic mistake” and hinted he remained ready to order military action.

“In every area where it was supposed to prevent Iran attaining nuclear arms capability, there were huge compromises,” his office quoted him as saying at the start of a meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders.

“We knew very well that the desire to sign an agreement was stronger than anything, and therefore we did not commit to preventing an agreement,” Netanyahu said.

“We did commit to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and this commitment still stands,” he added in what was seen as a thinly veiled threat of pre-emptive strikes against Iranian nuclear sites, although analysts said unilateral military action was highly unlikely for now.

Netanyahu has long opposed any deal with Iran, and Israel has previously signalled it could take military action if need be to stop the Islamic republic from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.

He has taken his campaign to the US Congress and the UN General Assembly but ultimately failed to block the agreement.

The deal puts strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and calls for stringent UN oversight, with world powers hoping that this will make any dash to make an atomic bomb virtually impossible.

In return, painful international sanctions that have slashed the oil exports of OPEC’s fifth-largest producer by a quarter and choked its economy will be lifted and billions of dollars in frozen assets unblocked.

“You can’t prevent an agreement when those negotiating it are prepared to make more and more concessions to those shouting ‘Death to the United States’ even as the talks are in progress,” Netanyahu said.

“Iran will get hundreds of billions of dollars with which it will be able to fuel its terror machine,” he said, referring to the expected lifting of sanctions.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon accused the six powers of needlessly caving in to Tehran.

“Iran, who arrived at the negotiating table in a weak position, has emerged victorious,” he said.

“Instead of fighting terror with all its might, the free world has granted legitimacy to Iran’s hateful, murderous ways. This agreement is a tragedy for all who aspire for regional stability and fear a nuclear Iran.”

Late on Monday, Netanyahu even opened a Persian-language Twitter account, @IsraeliPM_Farsi, to rail against the deal in the hope of convincing the Iranian public.

– ‘Pyromaniac with matches’ –

There was strong criticism of the agreement from across the Israeli political spectrum.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said on his Facebook page that “Israel’s interests have been abandoned”.

Science and technology minister Danny Danon said it was “not just bad for Israel, it’s dangerous for the entire free world”.

“Giving the world’s largest supporter of terrorism a free pass in developing nuclear weapons is like providing a pyromaniac with matches,” he said in a statement.

Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal “a capitulation of historic proportions to the Iran-led axis of evil.”

“The implications of this agreement for the foreseeable future are very grave,” she said.

“The state of Israel will employ all diplomatic means to prevent confirmation of the agreement.”

In New York, World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder was more cautious.

“We are still looking forward to getting all the details of this agreement, with the hope that the verification process will allow inspectors to determine Iran’s true aims,” the WJC quoted him as saying.

“As the famous proverb goes, ‘The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.'”

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