White House: U.S. Won't Back Iran Deal That Threatens Israel

'We understand' Netanyahu's position, White House Spokesman Eric Schultz says.

Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey
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President Barack Obama waves at the top of the steps of Air Force One before departure from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Friday, April 3, 2015,after he spoke at Hill Air Force Base on Friday.
President Barack Obama waves at the top of the steps of Air Force One before departure from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Friday, April 3, 2015,after he spoke at Hill Air Force Base on Friday. Credit: AP
Jeff Mason and Susan Heavey

REUTERS - The United States would not sign on to an agreement over Iran's nuclear program that would threaten Israel, the White House said on Friday, one day after negotiators in Switzerland announced a framework for a nuclear deal.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that any final agreement with Iran acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

Asked about the demand, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said he had not seen the specific request but was aware of Israel's ongoing concerns.

"We understand his position," Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One, "The president would never sign onto a deal that he felt was a threat to the state of Israel."

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, in a televised speech, on Friday hailed the framework as "a first step towards productive interactions with the world."

Schultz, asked about Rohani's comments, said he understood Tehran's need to sell the deal to Iranians but that the United States sees the deal as one focused on Iran's nuclear program.

"The concerns we have with Iran outside of the nuclear program remain just as vibrant ... yesterday as they are today."

Schultz also said President Barack Obama was continuing his outreach to U.S. lawmakers over the tentative agreement and planned to speak with all four leaders of Congress.

He did not give details on the timings of those talks with the leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate - Republican House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid - but said Obama aimed to talk to them on Friday.

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