(CNSNews.com) – Requiring Iran to recognize Israel as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement would be a “fundamental misjudgment,” President Obama said on Monday, adding that the U.S. cannot depend on the nature of the regime in Tehran changing.
“The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,” he said in an interview with NPR.
“And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment,” he added. “I want to return to this point: We want Iran not to have nuclear weapons precisely because we can’t bank on the nature of the regime changing. That’s exactly why we don't want to have nuclear weapons. If suddenly Iran transformed itself to Germany or Sweden or France then there would be a different set of conversations about their nuclear infrastructure.”
Obama was commenting on the nuclear understanding under negotiation between Iran and the P5+1 group – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. Last Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland, the two sides announced a framework comprehensive agreement, and negotiators now have three months to nail down a final text, complete with technical details.
The administration says the deal will shut off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapons capability, be tightly monitored, and that nuclear-related sanctions that are lifted under the agreement will be reimposed directly should Iran cheat.
But critics say the deal allows a regime that has proved itself untrustworthy to keep much of its nuclear infrastructure intact – albeit curtailed and monitored. They argue that it will be able to become a nuclear threshold state once a 10-15 year period of restrictions ends.
The destruction of arch-enemy Israel has long been a declared goal of the regime in Tehran, and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is a leading critic of the P5+1/Iran agreement.
After Israeli government ministers discussed the framework agreement late last week, Netanyahu outlined the cabinet’s opposition to the deal, charging that it “would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.”
“Iran is a regime that openly calls for Israel’s destruction and openly and actively works towards that end,” he said in a statement.
“Just two days ago, in the midst of the negotiations in Lausanne, the commander of the Basij security forces in Iran said this: ‘The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.’
“Well, I want to make clear to all. The survival of Israel is non-negotiable. Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period,” Netanyahu said.
“In addition, Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”
-- The conversation between Obama and NPR’s Steve Inskeep will air on NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday, April 7.