(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to refuse to declare Iran in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal “courageous.”
“It’s a very brave decision, and I think it’s the right decision for the world,” Netanyahu said during an interview with John Dickerson on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning.
“I think that right now the deal as it stands guarantees that Iran will have not a single nuclear bomb but an entire nuclear arsenal within 10 years. And I think the president was very courageous in saying, ‘I’m not going to kick this can down the road. I’m not going to say, Well, it’s going to be on somebody else’s watch. I’m going to stop this from happening,’” Netanyahu said.
Trump triggered a legislative review by the U.S. Congress on Friday by refusing to declare Iran in compliance with the 2015 deal between six world powers, including the United States, and Iran, which trades sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program. Trump said in a White House speech on Friday that he would pull the United States out of the deal if he was not happy with the result.
Trump in his speech told U.S. lawmakers to legislate triggers that would re-impose sanctions were Iran not to meet conditions stricter than those in the deal. He emphasized that he would like to add permanent restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment, which are to be loosened within the next decade under the agreement, and stop its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the deal does not address.
“If they want to save the deal, then the European allies should start working with the United States to actually correct its deficiencies, and there are many. They’re very clear, and they have to be changed. And it’s an opportunity that President Trump has created for them to fix this very bad deal, which is dangerous for them no less than it is for others,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli prime minister threatened what he called a “credible military response” had Iran rushed to create a bomb and said that Israel’s military threat and the severe economic threat of “crippling” U.S. sanctions has kept Iran in line.
He called the response of Israel and several key Arab states “historic.”
“I mean, it’s not just Israel that is supporting the president. It’s key Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. And I suggest that, you know, when Israel and the key Arab states agree on something, you know, you should pay attention. We’re close with our ears to the ground. We live right here next to Iran. We see what it’s doing,” he said.