Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to offer an alternative in his speech to the U.S. Congress on the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, a senior U.S. administration official said on Tuesday.
"Simply demanding that Iran completely capitulate is not a plan, nor would any country support us in that position. The prime minister offered no concrete action plan," the official said, speaking on background.
Netanyahu warned Congress against accepting a deal with Iran that President Barack Obama and his administration are deeply invested in negotiating, arguing that the deal would leave Iran with a "breakout time" of a year, which he said was too short.
The senior U.S. official said that the administration was pursuing a deal that "verifiably prevents" Iran from obtaining a weapon, and increases the breakout time "substantially" to a year from the current estimate of two to three months.
"These negotiations are not an opening to a rapprochement with Iran," the official said.
The official said that the proposed length of the deal - a decade or longer - would be "far longer than any other option."
"Military action would set it back by a fraction of that time, at which point Iran would begin to rebuild its program and try to break out for a weapon," the official said.
The official said Netanyahu contradicted himself by arguing that the Iranian government is both "powerful and unchanging" and "weak and vulnerable" and insisting that it needed to change as a condition for a nuclear deal.
"The logic of the prime minister's speech is regime change, not a nuclear speech," the official said.
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