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Obama: Nuclear deal cannot depend on Iran recognizing Israel

US President Barack Obama has said it would be a "fundamental misjudgment" to ask Iran to recognize Israel as part of the nuclear deal. Israel says it is still thinking of military action against the Iran pact.

Barack Obama has told US radio network NPR that demanding for Iran to recognize Israel would go beyond the scope of the nuclear deal discussed with Tehran.

Representatives from Iran met with US, France, China, Germany and Russia's officials to seal a framework agreement on reducing Iran's nuclear stockpile last Thursday.

"The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms…And that, I think, is a fundamental judgement," Obama said in the interview.

The US wanted Iran to not have nuclear weapons precisely because it did not see the Teheran regime changing very soon, Obama told NPR, adding that if Iran suddenly transformed into "Germany or Sweden or France," there would be a "different set of conversations" about nuclear infrastructure.

Senate leaders oppose deal

Meanwhile, Republican leader Mitch McConnell criticized the pact with Iran saying that lawmakers opposed to the deal were planning a formal response. "The administration needs to explain to the Congress and the American people why an interim agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world's leading state sponsor of terror," McConnell said, referring to Teheran.

He also referred to the proposed Corker Menendez bill, which would give lawmakers 60 days to examine the deal with Iran. Obama has opposed the bill as well as legislation on imposing more sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

Israel warns of military action

On Monday, Israel's Minister for Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, said his country was still considering military action against Iran's nuclear program. "It was on the table. It's still on the table, it's going to remain on the table…Israel should be able to defend - for itself, by itself - against any threat," Steinitz told reporters in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accuses Iran of wanting to

annihilate his nation

and demands that no agreement be sealed

unless Teheran recognizes the country

.

Israeli leaders believe a nuclear-armed Iran will lead to an arms race in the Middle East, further limiting the stability of the region.

The framework agreement aims at cutting down Iran's bomb-making capabilities while reducing international sanctions and implementing regular inspections. A final deal is due to be signed on June 30.

mg/gsw (AP, AFP)

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