Jimmy Carter on Geneva Deal: 'Historic Opportunity' to Rebuild Relations With Iran

Former U.S. president and member of The Elders says aware of risks involved, but hopes this can rebuild relations with Iran; Netanyahu call deal 'historic mistake.'

The Elders, an organization of elder statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates that includes former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, welcomed the interim agreement reached in Geneva between the P5+1 groups and Iran early Sunday.

“We are all aware of the risks involved,” said Jimmy Carter. “But I am convinced that, after 35 years of animosity and distrust, there is an historic opportunity to rebuild relations with the government and people of Iran on solid foundations of mutual respect.”

Kofi Annan, the chairman of the Elders and former secretary-general of the UN, said he hoped the deal would be "swiftly followed up with practical measures to put the agreement into effect. "After years of inconclusive negotiations, this is an important step forward in restoring confidence between Iran and the international community," Annan said.

In contrast to Carter, who considers the deal an historic opportunity, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "historic mistake" at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.

"What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it is a historic mistake," he said. "Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world."

"This agreement and what it means imperil many countries including, of course, Israel," Netanyahu said. "Israel is not bound by this agreement. The Iranian regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. As pime minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability."