Netanyahu: No way to compensate Israel if Iran deal goes through
In divergent appearances on US media, PM says 'There are many things to be done to stop Iran's aggression and this deal is not one of them,' while Kerry hits back: 'If the Congress turns this down, there will be conflict in the region because that's the only alternative'.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to do battle against a pro-deal media campaign Sunday, urging US lawmakers to hold out for a better Iran deal, and saying there was no way to compensate Israel if the nuclear agreement goes through.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz also gave competing interviews Sunday, contesting Netanyahu's point of view.
"I think the right thing to do is merely not to go ahead with this deal. There are many things to be done to stop Iran's aggression and this deal is not one of them," Netanyahu said on CBS' "Face the Nation" as he continued a string of US media interviews denouncing the deal reached on Tuesday between Iran and six major powers.
Netanyahu said he felt obligated to speak out because the deal endangers his country, the region and the world and there was no way Israel could feel safe if it takes effect.
The strain in US-Israeli relations was further evident over the weekend, when it was revealed that Kerry spoke with Netanyahu on Thursday, saying that the idea of reaching a better deal with Iran over its nuclear program is a "fantasy."
As part of media offensive launched by President Barack Obama after the signing of the deal, Kerry has given several interviews with the intent of explaining the agreement to the public - an agreement that Congress lawmakers have up to 82 days to review.
Israel's ambassador to the United States was racing in and out of offices on Capitol Hill, trying to persuade lawmakers that the nuclear deal with Iran is a historic mistake.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons ran into Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer three times.
"He is a very informed and persuasive advocate for the Israeli perspective and he is a persistent and thorough critic of the context of these negotiations and he made some very strong points," Coons said.
The secretary of state rejected Netanyahu's position that the West should maintain pressure until Iran entirely capitulates its nuclear ambitions. "They won't be crushed by sanctions; that's been proven. We'll lose the other people who are helping to provide those sanctions. They're not going to do that if Iran is willing to make a reasonable agreement.
"If the Congress turns this down, there will be conflict in the region because that's the only alternative," said Kerry. "The Ayatollah, if the United States says no, will not come back to the table to negotiate and who could blame him under those circumstances?"
Kerry also addressed Netanyahu's concerns that Iran will use its newly recovered financial capabilities to fund its proxies throughout the region and increase its military influence, directly endangering Israel's security interests.
"They're not allowed to do that, even outside of this agreement. There is a UN resolution that specifically applies to them not being allowed to transfer to Hezbollah."
But according to Kerry, Iran will struggle to find additional cash for its proxies for the next several years at least. "President Rouhani needs to deliver to the Iranian people. They have high expectations from this deal for a change in their lifestyle. Iran needs to spend $300 billion just to bring their oil industry capacity back to where it was five years ago.
President Barack Obama has promised to exercise his veto if Congress rejects the deal. Overriding the veto will require a two-thirds majority of both the House of Representatives and Senate, so the administration is working to win over enough of Obama's fellow Democrats to offset strong Republican opposition.
Rueters contributed to this article.