The most outspoken critic of the accord forged in Vienna between Iran and six world powers has been Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who condemned the agreement in apocalyptic terms. One of his cabinet ministers complained that it marked "one of the darkest days in world history."
Netanyahu has signaled his intent to help fight the deal in the U.S. Congress, and he launched an opening salvo on Wednesday on NPR's "Morning Edition."
"I think this deal gives Iran a path to a nuclear arsenal," Netanyahu said in an interview that is worth hearing in full for its zingers, "and I think it gives them hundreds of billions of dollars right away with which to pursue their aggression and terror against us and against the United States and the world."
On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond briefed Parliament before embarking on a trip to Israel. Hammond, a Conservative, was part of the protracted negotiations in Vienna over the past two weeks. He responded to a question from a British lawmaker about Netanyahu's views with what seemed to be a degree of fatigue.
From the Jerusalem Post:
"The question you have to ask yourself is what kind of a deal would have been welcomed in Tel Aviv. The answer of course is that Israel doesn't want any deal with Iran," Hammond said in response to an opposition legislator who said he objected to the agreement and cited dismay in Tel Aviv.
"Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off and I don't believe that's in the interests of the region. I don't believe it's in our interest," Hammond said.
That echoed comments from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who, like President Obama, urged the deal's detractors to study it more closely before pronouncing upon its failings.
"This is a responsible deal, and Israel should also take a closer look at it and not criticize the agreement in a very coarse way," Steinmeier said.
Netanyahu's reaction allowed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a chance to launch a barb in the direction of the hawkish Israeli premier, as the BBC's Lyse Doucet tweeted.
Hammond, for his part, says he intends to press the matter during talks with Israel on Thursday.
"I am going tonight to Israel and will have a chance to convey our message about this deal directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow," Hammond told reporters, according to the Daily Telegraph. "He has made clear that he intends to fight it all the way and that Israel will seek to use its influence in the US Congress to obstruct the progress of the deal. I am confident that that action will not succeed."
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