Netanyahu says his Congress speech influenced world powers not to rush for a deal

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that his speech to Congress may have influenced world powers seeking to sign a political framework deal with Iran by the end of the month to refrain from rushing into an agreement at any cost.

Last Tuesday, the Israeli premier warned a joint session of Congress that President Obama’s current strategy with Tehran could create a “nuclear nightmare” with a deal that would pave the way for a nuclear-armed Iran.

“After my speech to Congress, we heard over the weekend from the Foreign Ministers of a number of world powers that they are not compelled to reach a deal as soon as possible,” he said before his weekly cabinet meeting.”I hope these comments will be reflected in their actions.”

Netanyahu claimed victory after remarks made by U Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday. Kerry admitted after talks with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius that he had no urgency on an Iran bargain given the U.S. “had to get the right deal.”

Kerry said that the United States and France are “on the same page” that the nuclear deal under discussion with Iran needs to be strengthened.

Fabius said Friday that more work needed to be done to reach a deal between the The P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany) and Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program as a March 31 deadline for a political framework looms over the talks.

“There has been progress but as regards to the numbers, controls and the length of the agreement, the situation is still not satisfactory, so there is more work to be done,” Fabius said on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Riga, Latvia, the country currently chairing the EU.

Fabius gave no figures but key issues in the talks which began in late 2013 include the level of uranium enrichment that Iran should be allowed, the degree of international oversight of its program and how long an accord should last.

“The deadline is March 31 but in the event, it could be later although everyone wants to make progress by the end of the month,” Fabius said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she believed “a good deal is at hand,” adding that a successful outcome now depended more on political will than on technical negotiations.

“I believe a good deal is at hand. I also believe that there is not going to be any deal if it is not going to be a good deal. And this is something we have to pass as a message to all our friends and partners,” she was quoted as saying.

The talks with Iran have been extended several times. The end-March deadline is for a political agreement, with the overall deal to be concluded by the end of June.

Netanyahu said Sunday: “We will continue to exercise every means to prevent the world’s greatest supporter of terror from gaining the ability to create a weapon that will endanger the world – a weapon that first and foremost will be directed at us,” Netanyahu said Sunday.

According to Prof. Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, the only “good agreement” would be an agreement which would ensure full transparency of Iran’s nuclear facilities. “However the deal that is being prepared only include the nuclear sites declared by Iran and not those secret facilities which could serve Iran in its military programme such as Parchin.” “Israel must be prepared to the fact that sooner or later Iran will acquire nuclear weapons,” he told journalists in Paris and Brussels during briefings organised by the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA).

“The intention of the Iranian leaders is to reach the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran but they don’t want to meet the full requirement of transparency.” “An Iran that would be again legitimized by the West and that would seen its economy improved will have such a nuclear capacity that it will be able, whenever it wants, to have the atomic bomb,” Rabi said.

“Before, Iran was considered the devil incarnate. But with the emergence of ISIS, Iran is viewed by the West as a small devil and as a potential partner to fight the Sunni terrorist group. Iran plays with this situation to stay in the center of the play. Moreover the Iranians have gained influence in four Arab capitals, Damascus, Bagdad, Beirut and Sanaa,” he stressed.