Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today in an address to a joint meeting of Congress that the nuclear deal currently being pursued by the United States and Iran is “a bad deal” that would “spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.”
Netanyahu said, “Any deal with Iran would include two major concessions.” The first “would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure,” with the second “lifting restrictions on that program in about a decade.”
The speech comes after Republican congressional leaders extended the prime minister an invitation without any involvement from the White House. This breach in protocol spurred bipartisan debate, causing some Congressional democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), to boycott the speech.
The President has also cited Israel’s upcoming elections as reason to avoid meeting with Netanyahu. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who is in Switzerland to resume talks with Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was also absent.
In her remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference yesterday, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the partnership between the United States and Israel “should never be politicized” adding that debate is “useful” and “necessary,” but “politicizing the process it not. The stakes are too high for that.”
Susan Rice, White House National Security Advisor, also addressed AIPAC saying, “A bad deal is worse than no deal” when it comes to negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program. However, Netanyahu, today said, “The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.”
“It doesn’t block the Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” said the Israeli prime minister arguing that Iran’s successful achievement of nuclear capabilities would make a “nuclear tinderbox” of the Middle East.
Netanyahu assailed Iranian leadership stating, “Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, anymore than a Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem.” He drew comparisons between Iran and North Korea as well as ISIS. “Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam,” said Netanyahu. “The enemy of your enemy—is your enemy.”
Netanyahu was met with applause and standing ovations a number of times throughout his speech. He ended by introducing his special guest, Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, telling Wiesel and the rest of the House Chambers, “I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
In a statement issued shortly after Netanyahu’s speech, house minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D -California) said she was “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States” and “saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”