Netanyahu: Iran Warnings Are Related to Pending Nuclear Deal Decision

After addressing the Iranian threat in Munich, Netanyahu says 'We need to change the current situation with or without changes to the agreement itself'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Munich Security Conference on February 18, 2018.
THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP

MUNICH - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that combating Iran's attempts to establish a foothold on the ground is important in the context of an upcoming U.S. decision on the nuclear deal with Iran.

Speaking to reporters after his speech at the Munich Security Conference, Netanyahu said that addressing the Iranian threat "is meant to fight its aggression on the ground, and comes ahead of a decision to be made in Washington about the nuclear agreement."

"I will soon meet President Trump and that will be the first issue we discuss," Netanyahu said. "A bad deal was signed, one that allows Iran to speed away on the highway to a nuclear weapon. We need to change the current situation with or without changes to the agreement itself." Officials added that ahead of the American decision, Israel finds it important to stress to the world "what the Middle East would look like if God forbid they could arm themselves with nuclear weapons and their hostility increases."

Regarding the threat in his speech to "act against Iran itself" and not just its proxies, Netanyahu said: "I didn't say what we will attack, but one thing is for sure – Iran is attacking Israel, without a doubt, and so they have no immunity."

When asked about comments made by Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif – who called Netanyahu's use of drone wreckage "a cartoonish circus" – Netanyahu said: "The very fact that Zarif had to respond to this is exactly the point. When we say we have solid evidence it's not just this wreckage it's much more."

Netanyahu also touched on the recent flare-up on the Gaza border. "It doesn’t matter who did it, rather who didn't stop it," he said about the explosive device on the border fence that wounded four Israeli soldiers. "As far as we're concerned, Hamas is responsible and we responded accordingly. We have no interest in escalating the situation but if it continues the intensity will only grow."

Asked about whether there is a crisis in his relationship with Trump over Netanyahu's claims he has been talking to the U.S. about annexing West Bank settlements, Netanyahu said: "Relations with the U.S. are excellent. My relationship with Trump is excellent. Yesterday I spoke with [National Security Advisor H.R.] McMaster about issues of high importance."