WASHINGTON–U.S. President Barack Obama has rejected a call by Israel for any nuclear agreement with Iran to be conditional on Tehran’s recognition of the Jewish state’s right to exist, branding it a ��fundamental misjudgment.��
Speaking after Israel proposed its own terms for the accord, Obama told U.S. radio network NPR Monday that demands for Iran to recognize the country go beyond the scope of the agreement. ��The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel, is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,�� he said in a drive to sell the deal to a hostile Congress. ��And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.�� Israel’s government reacted angrily to the historic framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program announced last week, with a final accord due by June 30. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded Sunday that Iranian recognition of the Jewish state’s right to exist be written into the agreement. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told journalists Monday that while an earlier pledge by Obama to back Israel’s security was appreciated, it did not outweigh the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. ��If Iran will produce nuclear weapons, this is an existential threat to Israel,�� Steinitz said. ��Nobody can tell us that backing and assistance are enough to completely resist or to neutralize such a threat.�� Steinitz proposed that the emerging deal between Iran and world powers should incorporate a total halt to research and development on a new generation of centrifuges, a cut in the number of existing centrifuges and closure of the Fordo facility for enrichment of uranium. He also proposed that Tehran detail its past nuclear arms research and allow international inspectors to make spot checks ��anywhere, anytime.�� If such terms were accepted, Steinitz said, ��it will not be a good agreement but it will be a more reasonable agreement.�� Under the outline deal, the United States and the European Union are to lift all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in exchange for a 98-percent cut in Iran’s stocks of highly enriched uranium for 15 years, while its unfinished Arak reactor will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.