Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday took to the U.S. airwaves to discuss the nuclear deal taking shape between Iran and world powers, calling it "the deepest security issue for state of Israel, for the Middle East and the world."
Netanyahu appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, where he said, "The current proposal, as I understand it, enables Iran to have a vast nuclear infrastructure, which means a very short breakout time to the bomb, and secondly it lifts the restrictions after a decade."
He told host Bob Schieffer that he would support a deal that "conditions the lifting of restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in the future on Iran's behaviorto have it stop instigating aggression against its neighbors, worldwide terrorism that it's doing, and to have them stop threatening the annihilation of Israel. I think that's a better deal."
Netanyahu said that he does not trust nuclear watchdog inspections when it comes to totalitarian regimes. "It did not work with North Korea," he said, adding, "They played a good game of hide and seek. It didn't work with Iran, they cheated and bamboozled inspectors."
When Schieffer asked if Netanyahu trusts President Obama to make the right decision, he responded, "It's not a personal issue, one of trust, it’s a matter of survival – really, the deepest security issue for state of Israel, for the Middle East and the world."
Schieffer also asked Netanyahu about a tweet from the White House citing CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria's claim that Netanyahu has been warning about Iran for 25 years.
Zakaria even said that Netanyahu's his speech to Congress was motivated by politics – with the election coming up on March 17 – and not security.
To that Netanyahu responded, "The reason I've been warning for 25 years is that Iran has been trying to get to the bomb, and if we hadn't acted, I and President Obama and Congress, hadn’t acted in intervening years, Iran would have had nuclear weapon long time ago.
"As far as tweets, if I had to choose, I would retweet something that relates to Iran, and that's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's recent tweet in which he cites nine ways and reasons that Israel should be destroyed. That gives you a much better perspective on this regime."
Meanwhile, the United States and Iran have narrowed their differences in nuclear weapons negotiations, President Obama said in the face of a renewed Republican warning on Sunday that any deal will face a tough congressional review.
"We have made progress in narrowing the gaps, but those gaps still exist," Obama said in an interview on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that was recorded on Saturday and broadcast on Sunday.
He nonetheless repeated he was willing to walk away from negotiations, which are scheduled to reach a framework deal in late March, if Tehran does not meet Washington's demands.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, cautioned the Democratic president not to make "the bad deal we all anticipate he's going to make." He said Obama "cannot work around Congress forever."
McConnell told CBS he was hoping to get 67 of the Senate's 100 members "to assert the historic role of the Senate ... in looking at matters of this magnitude."
Sixty-seven votes are needed to overturn any presidential veto of legislation regarding an Iran deal. The same number of votes are needed for Senate ratification of treaties negotiated by presidents with foreign countries.
Arguing that Iran was "fomenting trouble" in other Middle Eastern countries including Syria, McConnell also warned that the Senate "cannot ignore all of their other behavior in looking at the potential nuclear deal."
The negotiations with Iran center on restricting its ability to produce weapons grade nuclear materials while allowing it to develop nuclear energy.
Defending the talks, which have come under withering criticism also from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama told CBS:
"Iran has abided by the terms of the agreement, we know what's happening on the ground in Iran, they have not advanced their nuclear program, we've been able to roll back their 20 percent highly enriched uranium during this period of time" of negotiations.
McConnell had planned to debate on the Senate floor this week a bill requiring Obama to submit any deal with Iran to Congress for approval. But on Friday, he postponed it after Democrats objected to the timing.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but Washington and others fear it is covertly seeking the capacity to build a bomb.
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