Netanyahu Worried Iran 'Might Hit Jackpot'

Sunday, 10 Nov 2013 02:09 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he agrees with Secretary of State John Kerry on a major point — no deal with Iran is better than a bad deal.

But after talks between Iran and six world powers collapsed early Sunday morning, Netanyahu is concerned that "Iran might hit the jackpot" when it comes to a deal to limit the country's ability to make a nuclear weapon.

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"Iran gives practically nothing and it gets a hell of a lot," Netanyahu told CBS' "Face the Nation"

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Netanyahu said he and President Barack Obama share a goal of making sure Iran has no nuclear weapons, but "we might have a difference of opinion on how to prevent it."

The talks between Iran and the "PT+1" coalition of six world powers, including five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, had been progressing and Kerry flew to Geneva to take part in the talks last week.

But the negotiations ended this weekend after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the deal did not do enough to constrain Iranian uranium enrichment programs, or to stop the Middle Eastern country from making a reactor that could produce plutonium.

The deal would have meant Iran would maintain its capability to build a nuclear bomb, said Netanyahu, with the country only giving a "minor concession" of bringing enriched uranium down to a lower level of enrichment "that they could cover within a few weeks, given the capabilities that they keep for enrichment."

This would mean Iran would become a "threshold nuclear power nation" by making a minor concession while the international community reverses its sanctions.

"This gives Iran several billion dollars worth of direct assistance, opens up petrol chemicals, opens up gold, diamonds and other things," the Israel leader said. "In other words, Iran gives practically nothing and it gets a hell of a lot. That's not a good deal. I can only express my wish that the P5+1 uses the time to get a good deal that takes away Iran's nuclear military capabilities."

But Netanyahu isn't optimistic.

"Some of them say it aloud, some say it behind closed doors, but I'll tell you this is the broad feeling here, broad feeling, that Iran might hit the jackpot here," said Netanyahu. "And it's not good. It's not good for us, it's not good for America, it's not good for the Middle East, it's not good for Europe either."

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, also appearing on "Face the Nation," told host Bob Schieffer that Netanyahu's concerns are valid and that it's appropriate for the United States to be wary of dealing with Iran.

"We've got to be very skeptical," Panetta said. "Iran is a country that has promoted terrorism. They've had a hidden enrichment facility that we had to find out about. So we've got to be skeptical and make sure that, even with some kind of interim agreement, that we know what the next steps are going to be in order to ensure that they really do stand by their word. You better operate from a position of strength if you want to deal with the Iranians."

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Panetta said that any deal should question what has happened to the enriched fuel Iran has, as well as the country's centrifuges and heavy water reactors, and ensure Iran has no more hidden enrichment sites.

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