'Trump made a historic, bold decision on Iran'

Netanyahu praises President Trump on decision not to recertify Iran nuclear deal, warns Tehran is like 'tiger unleash from its cage.'

David Rosenberg, | updated: 18:36

PM Netanyahu speaks with Fox News
PM Netanyahu speaks with Fox News

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lauded President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he would not recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told Fox News that Trump had taken a “historic and bold” step towards preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; part of what he called the broader challenge presented by the Tehran regime.

"Iran is the foremost terrorist state of our time,” said Netanyahu.

“It hangs gays, jails journalists, subjugates women, foments terrorism throughout the world. To have a regime like this, whose economy is 30 times the size of North Korea - to have a rogue regime like that acquire an arsenal of nuclear weapons in 10 years’ time, which is what the Iran agreement now provides for Iran to do, is a terrible folly.”

“So I commend the president for taking an historic and bold decision to avert this danger in time. He could have kicked the can down the road; he could have said 'it’s not going to happen on my watch, so I'll just let it go'. But he didn't, and he faced up to this danger."

Quoting President Trump, Netanyahu called upon the signatories of the JCPOA to “fix it – or nix it, because it could be very, very, dangerous if it just went through.”

While Prime Minister Netanyahu was a staunch opponent of the JCPOA prior to its passage two years ago, he suggested he would be satisfied with alterations to the deal.

“I’m focused on the goal. The goal is to prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. And you can achieve it either by fixing this bad deal or by nixing it. I don’t particularly care which one.”

The Prime Minister then laid out his criteria for an acceptable nuclear deal with Tehran.

“There are several key things that you want to make sure. One is that you don’t remove restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program just by changing the calendar. You want to see a real change in Iran’s behavior – that’s eliminated the so-called automatic ‘sunset clause’ on restrictions. The second thing is prevent Iran from developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that are only useful for nuclear weapons – and you can do that. And the third thing is... to have real inspections. Right now, Iran doesn’t allow you to inspect military sites. It lets you inspect everywhere else – but where do you think they’re going to hide these things?”

Speaking with CBS on Sunday, Netanyahu noted the wide consensus in the region, in a rare example of Arab-Israel unity, for tougher conditions on Iran aimed at blunting its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

“I mean, it's not just Israel that is supporting the president. It's key Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. And I suggest that, you know, when Israel and the key Arab states agree on something, you know, you should pay attention. We're close with our ears to the ground. We live right here next to Iran. We see what it's doing. And I think that what the president has done is created now space to prevent a very bad deal from materializing and to fix it. Everybody should join forces in doing just that.”

On Friday, President Trump declared that he would not recertify Iran’s compliance with the deal, yet refrained from pledging to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement, instead passing the issue to Congress.

In his speech, Trump slammed the 2015 Iran deal for what he called its lack of enforcement and for permitting Iran to make the move for a nuclear weapon after ten years. "In just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards nuclear weapons breakout. What is the purpose of a deal that only, at best, delays Iran?" Trump asked.

"As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” he said, later accusing Iran of “not living up to the spirit of the deal.”

"Iran will never, ever, get a nuclear weapon," Trump concluded.