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Obama Hails Iran Deal As Netanyahu Slams It

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have continued their broad disagreement on the framework deal on the Iranian nuclear program that was agreed upon last week.

Obama called the tentative understanding a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon and to bring security to the Middle East.

Obama said in an interview published in The New York Times on April 5 that the potential gains of a permanent deal under the parameters in the accord far outweigh the risks.

Officials from Iran and six world powers -- Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United States -- agreed on April 2 in Switzerland to an outline of "key parameters" for a deal curbing Tehran's controversial nuclear program in exchange for relief from U.S, EU, and UN economic sanctions.

A final deal must be finalized by June 30.

Obama said Israel has a right to be concerned about Iran's nuclear program, but the president said the United States will ensure any final nuclear deal with Iran maintains Israel's "qualitative military edge."

He added that Washington's "defense of Israel is unshakeable."

But Netanyahu denounced the framework understanding as a "bad deal."

Netanyahu said on CNN on April 5 that the agreement "doesn't roll back Iran's nuclear program" and keeps "a vast nuclear infrastructure in place."

He added that not a single "centrifuge is destroyed" and no nuclear facilities will be shut down under the accord.

In Washington, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat-California), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN on April 5 that the agreement reached with Iran does not threaten the survival of Israel as Netanyahu has claimed and, speaking personally about Netanyahu, added: "I wish he would contain himself."

Senator Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee) said on Fox News that congressional scrutiny and approval of any nuclear agreement with Iran is essential and would help ensure the deal is not a bad one.

He said: "It's important that Congress is in the middle of this, understanding, teasing out, asking those important questions."

Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) said on CBS that the deal is flawed but probably the best one Obama could get because the Iranians do not fear or respect him.

Also Read: Iran Framework Agreement Leaves Loose Ends

In Tehran, Iran's military chief has praised his country's success in negotiations with the world powers that struck the framework deal.

The comments by General Hassan Firuzabadi, a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were published on April 5 on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' website.

Firuzabadi congratulated Khamenei -- who has yet to comment on the accord -- for the "success of the team of Iranian negotiators and thanked" President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for their efforts.

He also hailed Khamenei's "guidance" of the Iranian negotiation team in forging the deal.

Opinions in Iran have varied, with many Iranians celebrating in the streets over news of the deal while several hard-line conservatives criticized it as giving up too much and cutting back Iran's nuclear program.

Conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani described the agreement as "positive," according to a report by the ISNA news agency on April 5.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and The New York Times.