Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) warned Monday that a bad nuclear deal between Iran and world powers “will lead to war.”
“There’s no one who wants a war less than us,” Bennett emphasized in an interview with CNN. “However, it’s one of those cases where a bad deal will lead to a war, and a good deal with actually prevent war.”
A good deal, Bennett told Christiane Amanpour, would be one that “dismantles the nuclear weapon production machine.”
He warned of a so-called breakout capability, in which Iran would not actually build a nuclear weapon, but rather the ability to produce one, at the flick of a switch, at any given time.
If a “bad deal” is brokered with Iran, Bennett said, military action will become inevitable, citing the Israeli strikes on nuclear installations in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007, which Israel has never officially admitted.
“In 2007, Israel allegedly attacked Bashar Al-Assad’s nuclear core,” Bennett told Amanpour. “And had we not done that – allegedly – Bashar Al-Assad would today have a nuclear weapon.”
He added, “If five years from now, or ten years from now, a nuclear suitcase blows up in New York, it will be traced down to these very fateful days.”
“Israel has the ability to defend itself, and Israel will defend itself if necessary,” declared Bennett.
Bennett is in the United States as part of an Israeli lobbying campaign to the Congress to stop the U.S. from approving a deal, which would reduce economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for a reduction in their nuclear capabilities.
On Thursday, Bennett urged politicians at a speech at the Brookings Saban Center not to back down in opposing an Iran deal. "We're two seconds from achieving our goal of dismantling Iran's nuclear program, now is not the time to ease up," he stated.
In the CNN interview, he told Amanpour, “Iran right now is on the ropes. Now is the time to present Iran with an either/or decision: Either retain your nuclear program or you have an economy. You can’t have it both ways.”
Bennett described the U.S. as Israel’s “strongest ally,” and said that the countries agree on preventing Iran from acquiring a bomb, but admitted that “there is a degree where we don’t really agree on how you get to that.”
Talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers ended with no agreement the last time around, but will resume on November 20.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that there is a “very good chance” of reaching a long-sought deal on Iran’s nuclear program, echoing similar remarks made a day earlier by an American official.
Bennett’s comments with respect to Israel’s capability to strike in Iran echo ones made by Israel’s former national security advisor, Yaakov Amidror, who said on Sunday that the Jewish state could stop Iran’s nuclear program “for a very long time”.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Amidror said that there was “no question” that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be prepared to make the decision to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities unilaterally if necessary.