With Western powers back at the negotiating table with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed a reported arrangement that would east sanctions against Iran in exchange for help fighting ISIS.
Lambasting the arrangement as “absurd,” the prime minister made his remarks at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.
“I know just what Menachem Begin would say about the thing I am hearing more and more in recent days from respected analysts in the West,” he said. “They [Iran] are fighting ISIL for their own interests, they are fighting over who will control the Islamic world that they want to impose on the entire world.”
“It’s like Assad saying, ‘Give me back chemical weapons, so that I will fight ISIL,” he added.
Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons last year when the US threatened air strikes in retaliation for chemical attacks against Syrian civilians and rebels. The civil war, which has been raging in the country for more than three years, has displaced and killed thousands of Syrians.
Netanyahu likened rearming Assad with chemical weapons with easing up sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, both which the prime minister called “absurd.”
“Menachem Begin would completely reject it and I am doing the same,” Netanyahu stated. Begin, the founder of the Likud party of which Netanyahu now leads, ordered airstrikes on Iraq’s nuclear reactors at Osirak in 1981.
Earlier reports indicated that Iran would be willing to join the US-led international coalition combating ISIS in exchange for the easing of restrictions on its nuclear program. Despite Western insistence that the two issues will remain distinct, US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that “there is a role for nearly every country to play, including Iran.”
“Iran is a very influential country in the region and can help in the fighting against ISIS terrorists…but it is a two-way street. You give something, you take something,” an anonymous senior Iranian official told Reuters.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 restarted late last week as all sides hope to arrive at a long-term agreement before the November 24 deadline.