Netanyahu Sends Implicit Threat to Iran Ahead of Nuclear Deadline

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Jewish Agency Assembly in Tel Aviv, Israel June 22, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted Thursday that Israel may attack Iran's nuclear facilities, even if Tehran and the powers nail down a historic deal to curtail Iran's nuclear program next week.

"Whatever happens, Israel will always defend itself, and the Air Force plays a major role in this," Netanyahu said at a pilots' course graduation ceremony.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will head for Vienna on Friday to take part in a final phase of the talks aimed at sealing a comprehensive international agreement on Iran's nuclear program. 

The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia are also due to join the talks over the weekend, in a push to secure a final deal by the June 30 deadline.

A senior member in the American negotiation team told reporters Thursday that there are still differences between the sides about how soon the sanctions would be lifted and over the method of supervising the Iranian nuclear program.

He said the sides may not reach an agreement by June 30 and will have to extend the talks by a few days to solve the remaining differences. "I can see a path forward that gets us to a very good deal. We have technical solutions, but we need political decisions," he said.

Speaking at the pilots' graduation, Netanyahu expressed concern over the agreement being drafted with Iran and said again that the closer June 30 approaches, the greater the powers' concessions to Iran.

"These concessions are increasing Iran's appetite and every day it raises the bar, with the intention of extorting more concessions," he said.

"In recent days Iran ruler Ali Khamenei rejected even the most basic conditions in the bad agreement drafted in Lausanne," Netanyahu added.

"He said no to the restrictions on the nuclear program in the coming decade, no to conditioning the sanctions' revocation on Iran's keeping the agreement, no to [supervisors'] access to military sites. Even if Iran waives some of these demands in a few days, the powers' basic concession will be huge and it will be a clear withdrawal from red lines the powers had publicly set earlier."

Netanyahu said the supervision method the powers are discussing with Iran is "full of holes" and will enable the Iranians to create a nuclear bomb less than 10 years after the agreement's signature.

The agreement will bring a flow of billions of dollars to the Iranian economy, enabling Iran to increase its subversion in the Middle East, Netanyahu said.

"It's still not too late [for the powers] to come to their senses, to insist on a good agreement and it's certainly not too late not to advance a bad agreement," he added.

"As world leaders always say, no agreement is better than a bad agreement."