JERUSALEM — Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz issued a harsh rebuke against his US counterpart Ernest Moniz on Tuesday, saying if he was an American citizen he would be strongly opposed to the deal inked between Iran and six world powers last July.
"If I were American, I would oppose the agreement," Steinitz said in a statement. "I would oppose the agreement because it ensures from the
outset Iran's becoming a nuclear power capable of producing dozens of atomic bombs per month, 10 years from today."
His comments come a day after Moniz told addressed Israeli diplomatic reporters in Washington, DC where he said if he were Israeli, that he would support the accord if he were an Israeli and that a "fair amount" of Israelis would agree with that position.
Moniz argued that by solidifying a deal with Iran, the country no longer poses an existential threat to Israeli security. "But clearly [the
nuclear deal] is part of the bigger issue in terms of how to we are going to address our collective security requirements in the region ... this is an important tool for us to do that, by taking the existential threat off the table," he told reporters on Monday.
Steintiz dismissed that theory out of hand, asserting that a legitimized Iran would lead to a regional nuclear arms race. throughout the region He said and the inspection requirements in the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action leave much to be desired.
"I would oppose the agreement because it is likely to lead to a nuclear arms race between Iran and the Sunni Arab states — in complete
contravention of the avowed policy of the US," Steinitz said, "I would oppose the agreement because even in the short term, the inspections
are not immediate and invasive, as was promised at the start."
Moniz attempted to assuage fears that it the US would sit idly by while Iran became a nuclear state armed with the bomb, and said that this the deal in no way indicates a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.
"Make no mistake about it: This agreement does not change one iota who our friends and allies are in the region," Moniz said. "It’s Israel, it’s the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], and maybe a couple of other Arab states in the region. Those are our friends and allies."
"Iran does not move out of the box unless support for terrorism is addressed," Moniz added. "That includes Hezbollah, obviously; unless activities increasing regional instability are addressed; unless human rights issue are addressed ... and in my personal view that the rhetoric around Israel changes dramatically."
Despite American efforts to reassure Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government remains relentless in highlighting the deal's flaws and shortcomings.
In conjunction with Steinitz's comments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement highlighting nine deficiencies in the deal.
Some examples provided include repeating Stienitz's fear of insufficient inspections, relying on conflict resolution instead of an
enforcement mechanism that would prevent Iran from gradually becoming a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, a faulty and poorly
thought out "snap-back" option and the eventual lifting of the arms embargo regarding ballistic missiles.
Moniz, who had a key role in drafting the agreement with Iran, met with Steinitz in June to discuss the details of the talks.