Negotiators in Geneva are buzzing about a possible diplomatic breakthrough over Iran's nuclear program, an idea that has Israel's Prime Minister fuming. A compromise agreement between Iran and the six major nuclear powers is reportedly so close that Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius are flying to Switzerland today to help seal the deal.
The latest conditions call on Iran to freeze most of its nuclear energy development, reduce the number centrifuges used to enrich uranium, and halt the construction of a "heavy water" nuclear reactor. In exchange, the United States and Europe will ease off on crushing economic sanctions that have devastated the Iranian economy over the last few years.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN that a deal could be reached this week, and that "There is a window of opportunity now that…needs to be seized." But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the development, more particularly Benjamin Netanyahu who called on the U.S. to reject the deal at all costs.
Israel is understandably nervous about Iran's nuclear capabilities, and sees any attempt to let them off the hook as a dangerous mistake. Netanyahu said publicly on Friday that this is "the deal of the century for Iran." He added that "Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to defend itself and the security of its people."
Netanyahu has previously stated that he believes Iran's negotiating tactics are merely designed to buy more time develop nuclear weapons and the regime in Tehran can not be trusted to honor its agreements anyway. The fact that Iranian state television chose to broadcast (on the same day of this supposed breakthrough) a documentary featuring a simulated missile attack on Tel Aviv won't allay those fears. He's actually calling for more sanctions, believing unrelenting pressure is the only way to get Tehran to act.
PM prior to meeting w/Kerry: Kerry said no deal is better than a bad deal. This is a bad deal. I urge him not to rush to sign the bad deal.— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 8, 2013
The United States, however, is desperately hoping for a new foreign policy win, having spent the last several years quietly reaching out the Iranians.