Netanyahu says sanctions against Iran in danger of collapsing

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought his campaign against the Iran agreement to Europe, saying in Rome yesterday sanctions intended to rein in the Islamic republic’s nuclear program are already crumbling.

“As we have warned, and I say this with regret, the sanctions regime has started to weaken, and very quickly,” Netanyahu said at a Rome synagogue, in a joint appearance with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. “If tangible steps are not taken soon, it is liable to collapse and the efforts of years will vanish without anything in exchange.”

Netanyahu will meet Letta again today to discuss Iran and other Middle East issues, including Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians and the conflict in Syria.

“I have heard your words,” Letta said after Netanyahu spoke, “and I understand your security concerns.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized the agreement reached on Nov. 24 by six leading nations under the direction of the U.S., calling it a “historic mistake” that falls far short of stopping Iran’s drive to attain nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its program is intended solely for civilian purposes.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert criticized Netanyahu’s statements on the Iran agreement, saying his successor’s outspoken remarks risked alienating the U.S.

“We must first and foremost guard against anything that could sound like an aggressive attack on our biggest ally,” Olmert said at a Tel Aviv conference yesterday.

“In contrast to others, when I see that interests vital to the security of Israel’s citizens are in danger, I will not be silent,” Netanyahu said in Rome.

The Israeli leader is also scheduled today to hold his first meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and said he looks forward to the pontiff’s upcoming visit to the Holy Land. Francis is planning to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in the West Bank in May, CNN reported last week, citing an unidentified Israeli official.

By Bloomberg


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