Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should focus on trying to get U.S. President Donald Trump to suspend, amend or annul the nuclear agreement with Iran when the pair meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in ten days, Israel’s intelligence affairs minister said on Monday.
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Speaking at a counterterrorism event in Herzliya, Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) made the comments amid debate within the Trump administration about the future of the agreement with Iran. The U.S. president is scheduled to tell Congress on October 15 whether Iran is still in compliance with the nuclear deal or in violation of it.
A presidential statement that Iran is in violation of the accord could pave the way for reinstatement of sanctions by the United States – and for its withdrawal from the agreement, which was co-signed with China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
“The first mission of the Israeli prime minister during his upcoming visit to the United States is to demand that the U.S. president suspend, amend or annul the nuclear agreement with Iran,” said Katz. “Iran is the new North Korea. Action should be taken against it now, lest we regret tomorrow what we did not do yesterday.”
Citing the Korean crisis, Katz noted that “the problems from the perspective of America’s allies South Korea and Japan, and the unresolvable dilemmas that have arisen, show that Iran has to be forced to sign a new agreement, which will prevent it from achieving nuclear arms forever, as President Trump promised,” Katz said.
The new agreement should also cover "the areas of missiles and Iran as a supporter of terrorism," Katz added.
Netanyahu has spoken with the U.S. president several times since his election last November, both publicly and in closed sessions, in attempts to persuade Trump to reconsider the nuclear agreement.
In July, when Trump first had to report to Congress on whether Iran was upholding the agreement, Netanyahu was disappointed that the U.S. president was persuaded by officials not to break the accord.
However, this time Netanyahu’s associates believe there is a possibility Trump will announce that Iran is violating the agreement.
In his speech on Monday, Katz also called on Netanyahu to tell Trump that his administration must become more involved in discussions over Syria’s future after the civil war, and not leave matters to Russia alone.
“The U.S. administration must play an effective role in safeguarding Israel’s national security interests in the arrangements and realities taking shape in the arena, and not leave the playing field to Iran and its proxies,” said Katz. “The U.S. government must understand that the campaign to contain Iran in the region must also be conducted in Syria.”
Katz added that Syria and Iran are currently discussing a long-term agreement that would strengthen Tehran’s presence in the country and allow the Iranians to maintain military bases in Syria, like the Russian army does, said Katz.
“The Iranians are liable to advance missiles of various kinds to Syria, and in Syria there may be a large and well-equipped force of Shi’ite militias whose purpose is to threaten and fight Israel,” Katz declared.
“Hezbollah will train and command Shi’ite militias, deploy outposts not far from the border with Israel on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, and will continue to grow and increase the precision of its missile arsenal,” he added.