Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has begun his speech to US Congress warning that a deal under discussion on Iran’s nuclear program could “pave its way to the bomb”, rather than block it.
In a speech punctuated by standing ovations, Benjamin Netanyahu depicted Iran as a “threat to the entire world”.
Talks on Iran’s nuclear program are nearing a critical late-March deadline for an outline agreement to be reached.
It also comes just two weeks before a closely fought election in Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that he was not trying to meddle in internal US politics.
It had complained that the speech – at Republican invitation, without consulting the White House – was interfering in domestic politics by trying to swell domestic opposition to any Iran deal.
The US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China are seeking to reach agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted with whoops and cheers as he made his way to the podium, shaking hands as he went.
He insisted the Israel-US relationship “must remain above politics” and that he was “grateful for the support of the American people”.
The Israeli prime minister quickly went on to the meat of his speech, saying Iran had proven time and time again that it could not be trusted.
Iran was on a “march of conquest, subjugation and terror”, he said.
“Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, the ideology is deeply rooted in militant Islam… it will always be an enemy of US.”
Its participation in the battle against Islamic State (ISIS) did not make it a friend, Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”
He went on to criticize the likely contours of the deal currently being negotiated in Switzerland.
Benjamin Netanyahu said it relied heavily on international monitoring, when Iran “plays a pretty good game of hide and cheat with UN inspectors”.
He said it would leave in Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and lift restrictions on its nuclear programs in a decade.
“This deal doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” he said, claiming Iran could have 100 nuclear bombs in five years.
“The days when the Jews remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies are over,” Benjamin Netanyahu said to big cheers.
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