The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he and Donald Trump will discuss the “bad” nuclear deal with Iran after the US president-elect enters the White House.
During the US election campaign, Trump called the nuclear pact a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated”. He has also said it would be hard to overturn an agreement enshrined in a United Nations resolution.
Speaking to the Saban Forum on the Middle East in Washington via satellite from Jerusalem, Netanyahu said: “Israel is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons … That has not changed and will not change.
“As far as President-elect Trump, I look forward to speaking to him about what to do about this bad deal.”
Netanyahu has been a harsh critic of the nuclear deal, a legacy foreign policy achievement for Barack Obama. But he had largely refrained from attacking the pact in recent months as Israeli and US negotiators finalised a 10-year, $38bn military aid package.
Before the nuclear agreement, Netanyahu further strained relations with the White House by addressing Congress and cautioning against agreeing to the pact.
The Obama administration promoted the deal as a way to suspend Tehran’s suspected drive to develop atomic weapons. In return, Obama agreed to lift most sanctions against Iran. Iran denied ever having considered developing nuclear arms.
“I opposed the deal because it doesn’t prevent Iran from getting nukes,” Netanyahu said in Sunday’s question-and-answer session. “It paves the way for Iran to get nuclear weapons.” Under the deal, Iran committed to reducing the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds, capping its level of uranium enrichment well below the level needed for bomb-grade material, reducing its enriched uranium stockpile from around 10,000kg to 300kg for 15 years, and submitting to international inspections to verify its compliance.
“The problem isn’t so much that Iran will break the deal,” Netanyahu said, “but that Iran will keep it because it just can walk in within a decade, and even less … to industrial-scale enrichment of uranium to make the core of an arsenal of nuclear weapons.
“So the problem how to deal with this deal is something that I will discuss with … President Trump when he takes office.”
Netanyahu telephoned Trump after his election victory in November and said the president-elect had invited him to meet in the US “at the first opportunity”. The two talked in New York in September, when Netanyahu also saw the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
“He [Trump] has a clear vision of America’s role and dominance in the world. I don’t think he’s going to put the world aside – I don’t see that at all. In fact, I think the contrary is true,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.