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Nuke Talks: Latest from Iran, P5+1

On March 2, deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States – resumed negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program in Montreux, Switzerland. Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held bilateral talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, planning to join the rest of the negotiators in Montreux on March 5. The two sides are less than a month away from a self-imposed deadline for a political framework for a deal.

The new round of talks coincided with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial visit to Washington, D.C. to voice opposition to a potential nuclear deal before Congress. Zarif criticized Netanyahu’s speech as “scaremongering.”
 
The following are recent excerpted remarks by officials on the status of the nuclear negotiations.
 

Iran

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

On February 26, Khamenei's official Twitter account highlighted a number of the Supreme Leader's past statements on the nuclear issue.

 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
"It is currently clear to everyone that Iran is a side who is completely serious in the talks."
– March 2, 2015, according to the press
 
"The nuclear issue has no other solutions than negotiation; the negotiations sought fundamentally to create mutual confidence, and we believe that sanctions should be eliminated once altogether."
– March 1, 2015, according to the press
 
"The world is pleased with the progress in the negotiations between Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) since the results of this progress and agreement benefit the region and the world as well as the development, trade, economy, culture and settlement of the problems and threats created by extremism in the region and the world." 
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
"[Netanyahu] is against any solution” and his speech in the U.S. will show his desire “to derail peace in the region through scaremongering and spreading lies, even inside other countries.”
 
“It’s a futile effort and it must not become an obstacle to reaching an agreement.”
 
“We are hopeful that this week we can attain more progress on other issues, especially the removal of these cruel sanctions, and then we can formulate this progress into a comprehensive, precise and workable agreement.”
– Feb. 28, 2015, according to the press
 
“It is unfortunate that there is a group which sees its interests in tension and crisis.”
 
Netanyahu’s bid was “an attempt to utilize a fabricated crisis to cover up realities in the region, including occupation, the suppression of Palestinians and the violation of their rights.”
 
“It is an on old policy to intimidate and spread lies in order to prevent peace in the region.”
– Feb. 28, 2015, at a joint press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni
 
"Our negotiating partners, particularly the Western countries and particularly the United States, must once and for all come to the understanding that sanctions and agreement don't go together.”
 
"If they want an agreement, sanctions must go... We believe all sanctions must be lifted."
 
"We have made some progress since last time and if there is the political will to accept that an agreement and sanctions cannot go together, then we can have an agreement this time."
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
 
"Iran is not about building nuclear weapons...We don't want to build nuclear weapons, we don't believe nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us."
 
Iran's nuclear ambitions are solely in the pursuit of "scientific advancement" and boosting national pride. "Once we reach that understanding, once this hysteria is out, once this fear mongering is out, then we can have a deal, and a deal that is not going to hurt anybody."
 
"We are prepared to work round the clock in order to reach an agreement. We believe that we are very close, very close and we could be very far...there are details that need to be worked out."
 

"We are very close if the political decision can be made to get to yes, as President Obama said."

– March 4, 2015, in an interview with NBC News

Atomic Energy Organizaton of Iran Leader Ali Akbar Salehi

"We have taken very good steps and managed to remove, as we believe, their fake concerns and worries through the technical offers we proposed."
– March 7, 2015, according to the press

The United States

 
President Barack Obama
 
“There is enormous suspicion between the Iranian regime and the world, not just the United States.
 
The Iranians have negotiated seriously because we were able to bring them to the table through some of the toughest sanctions that have been ever put in place. We have made progress in narrowing the gaps, but those gaps still exist. And I would say that over the next month or so, we're going to be able to determine whether or not their system is able to accept what would be an extraordinarily reasonable deal, if in fact, as they say, they are only interested in peaceful nuclear programs.
 
And if we have unprecedented transparency in that system, if we are able to verify that in fact they are not developing weapon systems, then there's deal to be had. But that's going to require them to accept the kind of verification and constraints on their program that, so far at least, they have not been willing to say yes to.”
 
“I think it is fair to say that there is an urgency because we now have been negotiating for well over a year.
 
And the good news is, is that during this period Iran has abided by the terms of the agreement, we know what is happening on the ground in Iraq. They have not advanced their nuclear program. We have been able to roll back their 20 percent highly enriched uranium during this period of time. It's given us unprecedented access into what they are doing. So we're not losing anything through these talks.
 
“If there's no deal, then we walk away. If we cannot verify that they are not going to obtain a nuclear weapon, that there's a breakout period, so that even if they cheated we would be able to have enough time to take action, if we don't have that kind of deal, then we're not going to take it.”
– March 7, 2015, in an interview with CBS
 
Secretary of State John Kerry
 
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, one of Iran’s vice presidents said today that Netanyahu’s speech actually serves Iran’s interests. I was recently in Iran and there were a lot of people who wanted this agreement. Does Netanyahu’s action actually help Iran?
 
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah, I’m just not going to play the game of walking into a debate about Iranian propaganda with respect to this visit. As I said, the prime minister is welcome in the United States at any time. We have an – we have an unparalleled close security relationship with Israel and we will continue to.
 
President Obama has done more to ensure the security of Israel by the creation of Iron Dome, by the development of weapons that are specifically calculated to be able to deal with Iran’s nuclear weapon problem. And the president has pledged that they will not get a nuclear weapon.
 
Now, I guarantee you, we have said again and again, no deal is better than a bad deal. We’re not going to make a bad deal. But remember, Martha, there were many people who opposed the interim agreement and said that was terrible. The fact is, the interim agreement has been adhered to. It has been inspected. We have proven that we have slowed Iran’s, even set back its nuclear program. And we are going to continue now to the next step to see – I can’t promise you we can. But we are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created, so you don’t have to return to additional measures, including the possibility of a military confrontation.
 
Our hope is diplomacy can work. And I believe, given our success on the interim agreement, I believe we deserve the benefit of the doubt to find out whether or not we can get a similarly good agreement with respect to the future. It is better to do this by diplomacy than to have to do a strategy militarily, which you would have to repeat over and over again and which I think everybody believes ought to be after you have exhausted all the diplomatic remedies.
 – March 1, 2015, in an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz
 
"We continue to believe, all the members of the P5+1, that the best way to deal with the questions surrounding this nuclear program is to find a comprehensive deal, but not a deal that comes at any cost, not a deal just for the purpose of a deal; a deal that meets the test of providing the answers and the guarantees that are needed in order to know that the four pathways to a nuclear bomb have been closed off.  And that is the task.  And we hope it is possible to get there, but there is no guarantee.
 
Sanctions alone are not going to provide that solution.  What needs to happen is that Iran needs to provide a verifiable set of commitments that its program is in fact peaceful.  And that average people and experts alike looking at that verifiable set of commitments have confidence that they are sustainable, that they are real, and that they will provide the answers and guarantees well into the future. 
 
Any deal must close every potential pathway that Iran has towards fissile material, whether it’s uranium, plutonium, or a covert path.  The fact is only a good, comprehensive deal in the end can actually check off all of those boxes. 
 
Now, I want to be clear about two things.  Right now, no deal exists, no partial deal exists.  And unless Iran is able to make the difficult decisions that will be required, there won’t be a deal.  Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  That is the standard by which this negotiation is taking place, and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply misinformed.
 
Now, we are concerned by reports that suggest selective details of the ongoing negotiations will be discussed publicly in the coming days.  I want to say clearly that doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get a good deal.  Israel’s security is absolutely at the forefront of all of our minds, but frankly, so is the security of all the other countries in the region, so is our security in the United States.  And we are very clear that as we negotiate with Iran, if we are able to reach the kind of deal that we’re hoping for, then it would have to be considered in its entirety and measured against alternatives.
 
Second – I cannot emphasize this enough.  I have said this from the first moment that I become engaged in this negotiating process, President Obama has said this repeatedly:  We will not accept a bad deal.  We have said no deal is better than a bad deal, because a bad deal could actually make things less secure and more dangerous.  Any deal that we would possibly agree to would make the international community, and especially Israel, safer than it is today.  That’s our standard.  So our team is working very hard to close remaining gaps, to reach a deal that ensures Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively and verifiably peaceful, and we have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go and the clock is ticking."
– March 2, 2015, at a press briefing in Geneva
 
"As Foreign Minister Fabius said a moment ago, we want an agreement that’s solid.  We want an agreement that will guarantee that we are holding any kind of program that continues in Iran accountable to the highest standards so that we know that it is, in fact, a peaceful program.  All of us in the P5+1 are deeply committed to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.  And we continue to believe that a comprehensive deal that includes intrusive access and verification measures, and blocks each of the pathways to securing fissile material for a bomb and then to try and make a bomb itself, that the best way to achieve the goal is to shut off those pathways.
 
Now, I agree with Laurent.  We have exactly the same assessment.  We have made progress, but there remain gaps – divergences, as he said.  And we need to close those gaps.  And that is our goal over the course of the next days.  We have a critical couple of weeks ahead of us.  We’re all mindful that the days are ticking by.  But we’re not feeling a sense of urgency that we have to get any deal.  We have to get the right deal.  And it is frankly up to Iran – that wants this program, that wants a peaceful program, that asserts that they have a peaceful program – to show the world that it is indeed exactly what they say.  That’s the measure here.  And we planned a return to the talks.  Starting next Sunday, different folks will be having different conversations, and we look forward to trying to drive this thing to an appropriate conclusion.  And we will find out whether or not Iran is prepared to take the steps to answer the questions that the world has a right to get answers to."
– March 7, 2015, at a press briefing with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris
 
France
 
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius
 
"We are in favor of a solid agreement ... for now there remain difficulties. There has been progress but as far as the volume, checks and duration of the envisaged commitments are concerned, the situation is still insufficient, so there is more work to be done.”
– March 6, 2015 in remarks to reporters in Riga
 
European Union
 
High Representative Federica Mogherini
 
“I believe a good deal is at hand. I also believe that there is not going to be any deal if it is not going to be a good deal. And this is something we have to pass as a message to all our friends and partners.”
– March 6, 2015 at a foreign policy conference in Riga
 
Russia
 
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
 
"By all means, we assist [the negotiations'] successful and timely completion and pursue agreements that would be firmly based on nuclear non-proliferation treaty principles and best practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency."
– March 2, 2015, according to the press
 
"At a meeting with [US Secretary of State John] Kerry and [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif, we discussed a number of issues on the Iranian nuclear program...We noted serious progress reached at the talks of the P5+1 with Tehran."
 
"We discussed tasks we have to solve in order to achieve a result within the agreed time frames."
– March 2, 2015, according to the press
 

Germany

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

"As far as Iran is concerned – and John Kerry made the point earlier – we used the opportunity last week in Paris to talk to our European partners, France and Great Britain, and to harmonize a common approach which hopefully will take us into the final round of negotiations in the search for a solution. For more than a decade, that conflict has been with us. I have been involved with – in this process in different positions, in different functions – as the foreign minister during my first stint; now again. Thus, I may be permitted to say that for the very first time in those 10 years, I’m under the impression that negotiations in the last year have been of a serious nature. Progress has been visible. But again, both of us are convinced that not all impediments have been cleared away, and thus everyone is called upon to continue to – Iran is called upon to continue to negotiate in a spirit – in a serious spirit. And we ask and urge Iran to show and express its readiness to enter into a compromise.
 
This is not a choice between a good or a bad deal. It’s very clear what we want to see. We want to be very clear in that what we want to see is that it is made impossible for Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb. It has to be made clear – unequivocally clear. It has to be something that can be reviewed, and we want to see that achieved on a long-term basis."
– March 11, 2015, in a joint press conference with John Kerry

 

Kerry on Disappearance of Robert Levinson

On March 9, Secretary of State John Kerry asked Iran’s government to work cooperatively to ensure the safe return of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson to the United States. Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island on March 9, 2007. He was reportedly investigating cigarette smuggling while working as a private investigator. Levinson’s family first received evidence that he was alive in November 2010. In the 54-second video, Levinson asked for a U.S. government response to his captors' demands, which have not been publicized. In the past, Iranian officials have said they are ready to cooperate with the United States on this case. The following is Kerry’s statement on the eighth anniversary of Levinson’s disappearance.

Eighth Anniversary of Disappearance of Robert Levinson
 
We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us on the investigation into Robert Levinson’s disappearance so we can ensure his safe return.
 
Mr. Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, eight years ago today.  He has spent more than 2,900 days separated from those who love him, and is one of the longest held U.S. citizens in history.  Year after year, the family has endured the pain of his absence. 
 
It is time for him to come home. 
 
We remain committed to the safe return of Mr. Levinson to his family and appreciate the support and assistance from our international partners.  We remain concerned about Mr. Levinson’s health given his age and the length of his disappearance.
 
Today, the FBI announced it has increased its reward for information that could lead to Mr. Levinson's safe return to up to $5 million from $1 million. 
 
We call on anyone with information about this case to contact the FBI.
 

Poll: Rouhani vs Ahmadinejad in 2017

A new poll by the U.S.-based Information and Public Opinion Solutions (IPOS) has found that President Hassan Rouhani (left) has the highest favorability rating of potential 2017 presidential candidates, followed by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right). Ahmadinejad, president from 2005 to 2013, still has a high rating among Iranians without university degrees and those living in rural areas. In a head-to-head race, 28 percent of respondents said they would vote for Rouhani while 24 percent picked Ahmadinejad.

But Rouhani’s edge increased to six percent when respondents were asked an open-ended question about who they would vote for. After Rouhani and Ahmadinejad, the following four individuals were the top picks of respondents:

• Former President Mohammad Khatami
 
• Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

• Mayor of Tehran Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf
 
• Former Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohsen Rezaei
 
 
IPOS also found that Rouhani’s approval ratings have fallen in the last few months. In November 2014, 59 percent of Iranians polled approved of the president’s job performance, while 28 percent disapproved. In February 2015, his approval rating fell to 49 percent.
 
 
Rouhani’s rating did not vary in a statistically significant way when data was analyzed according to gender, education level and location of respondents. But Rouhani’s popularity did differ significantly across age groups. Rouhani polled the best among Iranians age 59 and above. Some 56 of older Iranians approved of his performance, at least five percent more than any other age group.
 
IPOS conducted the survey on February 14-15, which consisted of a random sample of 735 Iranians.
 
Click here for more information.

Photo credits: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by Marcello Casal, Jr. (Agência Brasil: Gallery, Direct) [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons and Hassan Rouhani via President.ir

Poll: Rouhani Approval Ratings Down

President Hassan Rouhani’s approval rating has fallen just below 50 percent, according to a new poll by the U.S.-based Information and Public Opinion Solutions (IPOS). The latest survey, conducted February 14-15, found that Rouhani’s approval has slipped to 49 percent from 59 percent in November 2014.

 

The following chart is further breakdown of the range of opinions towards Rouhani’s performance.The latest poll allowed respondents five choices while the November 2014 poll only gave respondents three choices — approval, neutral or no approval.
 
 
The president’s job approval rating did not vary in a statistically significant way according to gender, educational level and location of respondents. But Rouhani’s rating differs significantly across age groups. Rouhani polled the best among Iranians age 59 and above.
 
 
IPOS conducted the survey on February 14-15, which consisted of a random sample of 735 Iranians.
 
Click here for more information.
 

Netanyahu Speech: Obama & Iran React

The following is a three-part series detailing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and reactions from U.S. and Iranian leaders.

Part 1 - Netanyahu Speech: The Text

Part 2 - Netanyahu Speech: Obama, US React

 

Netanyahu Speech: The Text

On March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a potential nuclear deal with Iran in an address to Congress in Washington, D.C. “We've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal,” he said. “Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.” Netanyahu’s visit was controversial, since House Speaker John Boehner reportedly invited the prime minister without consulting the White House. On February 25, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Netanyahu’s visit “injected a degree of partisanship” into the nuclear negotiations. More than 50 Democratic lawmakers decided not to attend the speech. The following are excerpts from Netanyahu’s address.

My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.

We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.

Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated -- he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed. 

For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world. 

But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime. 
 
The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots -- religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship. 

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world."

I'm standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.

Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply.
 
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real. 

Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.

In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.

So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.

We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.

Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
 
Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.

Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that.

Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America," that same America that it calls the "Great Satan," as loud as ever.

Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America.

Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.

Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
 
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.

The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember -- I'll say it one more time -- the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.

But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them. 

Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it. 
 
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.

The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.

Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short -- about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's.

And if -- if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.

True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.

Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.

Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions -- 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras. 
 
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock -- as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them. 

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught -- caught twice, not once, twice -- operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed. 

Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, "If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one." Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.

But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade. 
 
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs. 

Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount -- 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision. 

My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires. 

Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy. 

And by the way, if Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States. 
 
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb.

So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more.

Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?

Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors -- Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.
 
And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox. 

If anyone thinks -- if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future.

We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.

Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.

Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.

Thank you.

If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.

If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.

If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.

My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?

Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plan can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.

Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.

Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar -- call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.

And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
 
My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.

Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. 

The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.

A better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends. 

A better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. 
 
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.

You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire. 

My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. 

Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, "never again."

And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. 

But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.

This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.

But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.

I know that you stand with Israel.

You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.

Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them."

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.

May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

Click here for the full transcript
 

Netanyahu Speech: US Reacts

 

On March 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a potential nuclear deal with Iran in an address to Congress in Washington, D.C. Administration officials and several Democratic lawmakers were critical of the speech. President Barack Obama claimed that Netanyahu "has not offered any kind of viable alternative" to diplomacy that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Several Republican lawmakers, however, praised Netanyahu's speech. "It was the most powerful and significant speech I've seen by any foreign leader during the 22 years I have been in Congress," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY). The following are excerpted reactions from U.S. officials and lawmakers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress. 

Administration Officials

President Barack Obama     
                   
“The Prime Minister appropriately pointed out that the bond between the United States of America is unbreakable, and on that point I thoroughly agree.  He also pointed out that Iran has been a dangerous regime and continues to engage in activities that are contrary to the interests of the United States, to Israel, and to the region.  And on that, we agree.  He also pointed out the fact that Iran has repeatedly threatened Israel and engaged in the most venomous of anti-Semitic statements.  And no one can dispute that.
 
“But on the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the Prime Minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.  So let’s be clear about what exactly the central concern should be, both for the United States and for Israel.
 
“I’ve said since before I became President that one of my primary goals in foreign policy would be preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  And with the help of Congress and our international partners, we constructed an extraordinarily effective sanctions regime that pressured Iran to come to the table to negotiate in a serious fashion.  They have now been negotiating over the last year, and during that period, Iran has, in fact, frozen its program, rolled back some of its most dangerous highly enriched uranium, and subjected itself to the kinds of verifications and inspections that we had not previously seen.  Keep in mind that when we shaped that interim deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu made almost the precise same speech about how dangerous that deal was going to be.  And yet, over a year later, even Israeli intelligence officers and, in some cases, members of the Israeli government, have to acknowledge that, in fact, it has kept Iran from further pursuing its nuclear program.
 
“Now, the deal that we are trying to negotiate that is not yet completed would cut off the different pathways for Iran to advance its nuclear capabilities.  It would roll back some elements of its program.  It would ensure that it did not have what we call a breakout capacity that was shorter than a year’s time.  And it would subject Iran to the most vigorous inspections and verifications regimes that have ever been put in place.
 
“And the alternative that the Prime Minister offers is no deal, in which case Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program, accelerate its nuclear program, without us having any insight into what they’re doing, and without constraint.  And his essential argument is that if we just double down on sanctions, Iran won’t want to do that.
 
“Well, we have evidence from the past decade that sanctions alone are not sufficient to prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.  And if it, in fact, does not have some sense that sanctions will be removed, it will not have an interest in avoiding the path that it’s currently on.
 
“So the bottom line is this:  We don’t yet have a deal.  It may be that Iran cannot say yes to a good deal.  I have repeatedly said that I would rather have no deal than a bad deal. But if we’re successful in negotiating, then, in fact, this will be the best deal possible to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Nothing else comes close.  Sanctions won’t do it.  Even military action would not be as successful as the deal that we have put forward.
 
“And I think it is very important not to be distracted by the nature of the Iranian regime’s ambitions when it comes to territory or terrorism -- all issues which we share a concern with Israel about and are working consistently with Israel on.  Because we know that if, in fact, they obtain a nuclear weapon, all those problems would be worse.
 
“So we’re staying focused on the central issue here:  How do we prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  The path that we’ve proposed, if successful, by far is the best way to do that.  That’s demonstrable.  And Prime Minister Netanyahu has not offered any kind of viable alternative that would achieve the same verifiable mechanism to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
“So I would urge the members of Congress who were there to continue to express their strong support for Israel’s security, to continue to express their strong interest in providing the assistance Israel needs to repel attacks.  I think it's important for members of Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to be unified in pushing back against terrorism in the region and the destabilizing efforts that Iran may have engaged in with our partners.  Those are all things in which this administration and Israel agree.
 
“But when it comes to this nuclear deal, let’s wait until there’s actually a deal on the table that Iran has agreed to, at which point everybody can evaluate it; we don’t have to speculate.  And what I can guarantee is that if it's a deal I’ve signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
“And for us to pass up on that potential opportunity would be a great mistake.  It's not one that I intend to make, and I will take that case to every member of Congress once we actually have a deal.”
—March 3, 2015 in comments to the press
 
“[W]e (Israel and the United States) actually share a goal, which is making sure Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. That’s something that I committed to when I was still a senator. It is a solemn pledge I made before I was elected president and everything that I’ve done over the course of the last several years in relation to Iran has been in pursuit of that policy. There is a substantial disagreement in terms of how to achieve that. And what it boils down to is what’s the best way to ensure that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.
 
“Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks that the best way to do that is either through doubling down on more sanctions or through military action, ensuring that Iran has absolutely no enrichment capabilities whatsoever. And there’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program.
 
“What we’ve said from the start is by organizing a strong sanctions regime, what we can do is bring Iran to the table. And by bringing Iran to the table, force them to have a serious negotiation in which a) we are able to see exactly what’s going on inside of Iran b) we’re able to create what we call a breakout period, a timeline where we know if they were to try to get a nuclear weapon it would take them a certain amount of time.
 
“And the deal that we’re trying to negotiate is to make sure that there’s at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one.
“And as long as we’ve got that one-year breakout capacity, that ensures us that we can take military action to stop them if they were stop it.
 
“Now, we’re still in the midst of negotiations. What I’ve said consistently is, we should let these negotiations play out. If, in fact, Iran is agree, willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist …
 
“Now, Iran may not agree to the rigorous inspection demands that we’re insisting on. They may not agree to the low levels of enrichment capabilities they would have to maintain to ensure that their breakout is at least a year. But if they do agree to it, it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.
 
“And we know that because during the period in which we applied sanctions for over a decade, Iran went from about 300 or a couple of hundred centrifuges to tens of thousands of centrifuges in response to sanctions.”
—March 2, 2015 in an interview with Reuters
 
Democrats

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
 
“The unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel are rooted in our shared values, our common ideals and mutual interests.  Ours is a deep and abiding friendship that will always reach beyond party. Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people.  The state of Israel stands as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century, and the United States will always have an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.
 
“That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
 
“Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated something we all agree upon: a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both our countries.  We have all said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is the bedrock of our foreign policy and national security.  As President Obama has said consistently, all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.”

— March 3, 2015 in a statement

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)
 
“This is a prime minister who's never seen a war he didn't want our country to fight.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
 
"This speech was...fear-mongering at its ultimate."
 
"Prime MInister Netanyahu basically said that the only acceptable deal was a perfect deal, or an ideal deal."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
 
"This speech is high theater for a re-election campaign in Israel and a political tool wielded against our president and his administration by the speaker of the House."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
 
"I have always believed that the best solution is a strong and verifiable diplomatic deal, but whether any deal is truly verifiable and achievable is a serious question that needs to be answered. I am hopeful a good deal can be made, and I have no doubt Congress will pass sanctions quickly if the right deal can't be reached."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
Republicans

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
 
The speech was “phenomenal” in clearly stating “why this deal is going to be very damaging for world security, U.S. interests in Israel.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

The speech was “electrifying.”
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
"It was the most powerful and significant speech I've seen by any foreign leader during the 22 years I have been in Congress."
— March 3, 2015 to the press
 
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
 
"The speech today by Prime Minister Netanyahu was Churchillian in its clarity and in its resolve to respond to the greatest national security threat on the face of the planet."
— March 3, 2015, according to the press

Netanyahu Speech: Iran Reacts
 
Iranian officials sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on March 3, in which he argued against a potential nuclear deal with Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Netanyahu of distorting reality and running a “popularity contest” in the United States. He also argued Netanyahu lacks the “moral authority” to make allegations against Iran. And Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham called the address a "deceitful show." The following are excerpted remarks from Iranian officials about Netanyahu's speech.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Khamenei's official Twitter account, though not mentioning Netanyahu's speech directly, released several tweets criticizing Israel during the prime minister's trip to Washington.
 
President Hassan Rouhani

“The only one who is angry and upset about the course of negotiations is an occupying regime that sees its survival in war and invasion,” referring to Israel.
 
“People in the world, as well as the Americans, are much more perceptive than to trust the words of advice from a regime that has a long reputation for causing conflict and crisis.” 
 
“The very same regime that has sought nuclear weapons contrary to international law and away from international observers; which has produced atomic bombs and by refusing to sign the NPT will not allow the IAEI to visit its nuclear facilities.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

"Americans and the people of the world are more intelligent than to listen to advice from an ever-warmongering regime."
 
"[Israel] claims to speak of peace and warns of future threats while it is the creator of the greatest danger for the region."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
"A malicious person reveals his true nature and says that if America does not stand with us, we will unilaterally act. His remarks are ludicrous and foolish. Israel is an illegitimate regime that has no geographical or strategic depth, and it because of its crimes it is disgusted in the Islamic world. This regime intends to make threats on our nation. We need strength, and the enemy should be aware of our power."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

 
 
The following are excerpts from an interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry.
 
Nuclear Allegations
 
“Mr. Netanyahu has been-- proclaiming, predicting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon with-- within two, three, four years, since 1992. He has been on the record time and again that Iran will build a nuclear weapon within two years-- since, as I said, 1992. In 2012, he went before the General Assembly and said, ‘Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year.’ It seems that he wants to stick to his one year-- forever. Iran is not about building nuclear weapon. We don't wanna build nuclear weapons. We don't believe that nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us.”
 
“We do not believe a bomb is in our interest. Whereas he does have a bomb. He does have two-- he has 200 nuclear weapons. He has stood against a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the single most important obstacle to the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the-- in the Middle East. Why nobody makes him accountable for the behavior, rather than for the allegations? He continues to create-- to make allegations against Iran. He's in no place to do that. He doesn't have the authority, the moral authority, to do that.”
 
Support for Extremists
 
“I wanna ask Mr. Netanyahu what was he doing visiting al-Nusra-- terrorists in Israeli hospitals? Why is he supporting el-Nusra? I'm not running a-- popularity contest in the United States. But he seems to be doing that. And at the same time, he's a bedfellow to the most dangerous terrorists who are fighting against all of us in the world.”
 
“It is strange that somebody has the audacity to charge Iran, which is the only country, which is-- has supported steadily the governments in the region against a terror network that has, unfortunately, been created in our region, has helped Iraq. We came to the assistance of the Iraqi government. We came to the assistance of the Kurdish people in Iraq when they were-- when the onslaught of-- of Daesh -- against Iraq started.”
 
Policies Towards Jews and Israel
 
“Well, it is unfortunate that Mr. Netanyahu now totally-- distorts realities of today. He even distorts his own-- scripture. If-- if you read the book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews. If you read-- the-- the Old Testament, you will see that it was an Iranian king who saved the Jews from Babylon.”
 
“It is truly, truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history: Once during that time of-- of a prime minister who was trying to kill the Jews, and the king saved the Jews, again during the time of Cyrus the Great, where he saved the Jews from Babylon, and during the-- Second World War, where Iran saved the Jews. ”
 
“We're talking about Mr. Netanyahu, who has-- butchered-- innocent children in Gaza. We are not talking about annihilation of Jews. We never have, we never will. Because if we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them, disproportionately to their number."
 
“We have said, and we will continue to say, that the [Israeli] regime is a threat to regional peace. This is the only regime with nuclear weapons. This is the only regime that has aggressed upon all of its neighbors, has-- gobbled territory of-- of its neighbor, is occupying people's territory, is violating human rights on a daily basis.”
 
Imad Mughniyah (former Hezbollah security chief)
 
ANN CURRY: “The prime minister said that he wished that someone would ask you why you laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyah. He said, who has spilled more blood, more American blood… than any other terrorist beside Osama bin Laden. Mughniyah was a Hezbollah-- commander. He is accused of the-- in-- bombings of the-- U.S. barracks, and also U.S. embassy bombings.”
 
JAVAD ZARIF: “The problem is, we're talking about a resistance to Israeli occupation, which-- was pushed out of Lebanon by a resistance movement. We're not talking about a group that came from all over the world to Syria or to Iraq to wreak havoc. We're talking about people defending their country, defending their territory against occupation. If you can go back, episodes that Mr. Netanyahu doesn't want the world to remember, Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, bombardments of Lebanese cities, occupation of southern Lebanon, atrocities that were committed in Lebanon amounting to war crimes, these are-- areas where the Lebanese resistance fought against. They fought in their own territory for the independence of their country, for liberation of their territory from Israeli occupation. They are considered heroes in the entire Middle East. And that is where the problem lies. By portraying images that have no base in-- in truth, no base in reality, they cannot change the history.”
– March 4, 2015 in an interview with NBC News
 
U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo
 
"In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless.
 
"The paradox of the situation is that a government [Israel] that has built a stockpile of nuclear weapons, rejected calls to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, made military incursions into neighboring states and flouted international law by keeping the lands of other nations under occupation, now makes such a big fuss over a country, Iran, that has not invaded another country since America became a sovereign nation.
 
"Mr. Netanyahu seems to be in a state of panic at the prospect of losing this tool with which to attack Iran, as we do all in our power to address the genuine concerns of the international community and arrive at a settlement over our country’s nuclear energy program. Iran’s efforts, epitomized by the 2013 interim agreement, aim to resolve the issue with the P5-plus-1 group of countries (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany). Since Israel’s prime minister appears to be a person who thrives on chaos and conflict, we fear that he may have further plans to poison the atmosphere and sow discord among those involved in this historic effort."
– March 3, 2015 in an op-ed in The New York Times
 
Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
 
“We are facing all sorts of pressure from outside but inside the country there’s even a greater challenge. Netanyahu is threatening Obama there [in Washington] and here [in Tehran] a group of people are threatening to reveal secrets. They [the internal opponents] are echoing Netanyahu.”
–  March 3, 2015 in an address to the Interior Ministry
 
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham

“Netanyahu's speech was totally a deceitful show and part of an electoral campaign made by radicals in Tel Aviv.”
 
“Netanyahu’s speech indicated his weakness and extreme isolation of the radical groups even among their supporters.”
 
"Constant lying of Netanyahu about goals and purposes of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is very much boring and not new."
 
"The Iranophobia scenario is facing serious problem now as the (nuclear) talks are continuing and Iran's is seriously determined to settle this fake crisis.”
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
"Netanyahu's remarks were repeated lies; the regime's hostilities towards the Iranian nation are obvious and the regime's lies have been completely revealed on the international scene.”
 
“The regime is entangled in a whirlpool of its mistakes, extremism and spread of insecurity and Netanyahu had better respect the global community's understanding and avoid repeating such words.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
 
“His very speech shows the regime’s frustration and concern, and it's no surprise that it is concerned because the regime’s power has been on the decline day by day over the past three decades."
 
Netanyahu's speech was a "political show."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani

“Of course, [Netanyahu] has made every effort to provoke countries against Iran and spread Iranophobia in the world, which is not something new and has continued for years.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

Vice President and Environment Department Head Masoumeh Ebtekar

"All nations are waiting for an agreement (between Iran and the world powers) and expect that Iran play its special role in resolving regional and international issues and Netanyahu's attempts will not have any impact in this regard."
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 

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