Netanyahu Wants to Discuss Iran With Trump as Tensions Grow

  • Iran has become more aggressive power since pact: Netanyahu
  • Iran says Senate vote to extend sanctions act violates accord

Netanyahu to Discuss Iran With Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to renew his assault on the Iran nuclear deal when he meets with Donald Trump, whose opposition to the accord overarches growing questions about its fate.

The U.S.-president elect has called the U.S.-led Iran agreement the “worst deal ever negotiated” and plans to nominate one of its leading critics, retired Marine General James Mattis, as defense secretary. Adding to the tensions, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to extend the U.S. president’s authority to impose sanctions on Iran, drawing swift denunciation from Iranian authorities.

Netanyahu, who clashed publicly and bitterly with the Obama administration over the deal, contended on Sunday that Iran has become a “more aggressive power” since it was signed in July 2015 and said he “looked forward” to speaking with Trump “about what to do about this bad deal.” Netanyahu spoke at a conference in Washington conducted via video link from Jerusalem.

People familiar with the Israeli leader’s thinking have said he is expected to urge revisions to the pact that would hold Iran more strictly to account, including with regard to actions outside the accord’s purview such as missile development and support for groups deemed terrorist organizations by the U.S. Netanyahu spoke to Trump after the American election, and said he was invited to come to the U.S. at the “first opportunity.”

Conflicting Positions

Trump has stated conflicting positions on the agreement, saying he would both dismantle it and strictly enforce it. Changing its terms would require the cooperation of Iran and the other signatories -- China, France, Russia, Germany, the U.K. and the European Union. But a Trump administration could upend the agreement on its own by imposing new sanctions.

Fifty-eight percent of Israelis say there’s a chance Trump will scrap the deal, a new poll showed. The telephone survey of 500 Israelis by the Dialog organization had a margin of error of 4 percentage points, according to a press release Monday from the Ruderman Family Foundation, which sponsored the poll.

The nuclear accord, which went into effect in January, curbed the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions that had been imposed over the work. A number of other U.S. restrictions related to Iran’s missile development and its links to U.S.-designated terrorist groups remain in place. The pact has helped Iran attract foreign investment and reinforced the standing of President Hassan Rouhani against politicians who opposed any deal with the U.S.

‘Blatant Violation’

Rouhani on Sunday called the Senate vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act a “blatant” violation of the nuclear agreement, and urged President Barack Obama to block it. More than 260 members of Iran’s parliament called on Rouhani’s government to take unspecified reciprocal action against the U.S., according to a report in the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

While Obama has waived most sanctions under the nuclear accord, congressional leaders said keeping them in reserve provides valuable leverage against Iran. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the bill won’t interfere with the U.S.-led nuclear agreement and he expected the president to sign it.

Trump’s election has already reinvigorated Republican opposition to the agreement, and last month, the House of Representatives voted to block Boeing Co. from selling or leasing planes to Iran. The company had agreed earlier this year to supply 109 aircraft to Iran in a deal worth as much $25 billion.

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