Netanyahu OK with ‘civilian’ Iran nuke program – Mark Hensch/TheHill
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that he approves of Iran using nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
Netanyahu added that he opposes President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran based only on its military implications.
“Allow me to make clear that Israel is not opposed to a civilian nuclear program in Iran,” he said in Florence, Italy Saturday evening, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“We are opposed to a militarized nuclear program in Iran,” Netanyahu said during a visit with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
“Unfortunately, the deal with Iran enables it to preserve – and even to expand – its vast nuclear infrastructure which is completely unnecessary for a civilian nuclear program but is vital to manufacturing nuclear weapons,” the Israeli leader added.
Netanyahu’s remarks follow the Obama administration’s announcement that it had achieved a landmark nuclear pact with Iran last month.
Netanyahu has since emerged as a vocal critic of the pact, given Tehran’s long history of threatening Israel and its people.
“[It lets Iran] enrich as much uranium as they wish at whichever level they wish,” Netanyahu said, citing the expiration date for a cap on Iran’s uranium stockpiles in 13 years.
“This will bring the Islamic state of Iran – which is engaging in global terrorism – to the threshold of an entire nuclear arsenal,” he added.
Obama’s historic bargain with Iran eases economic sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation in exchange for greater restrictions on its atomic energy capabilities.
Iran has vowed it is permitting more nuclear inspections and caps on its centrifuge and uranium stockpiles as part of the deal.
Obama is now lobbying Congress to back the agreement’s language in a vote next month.
Lawmakers meet on Sept. 17 for a vote on a resolution either expressing approval or disapproval for the nuclear deal.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) announced on Sunday that he is voting in favor of the controversial accord.
Merkley’s support makes him the 31st senator backing Obama’s diplomatic agreement with Iran.