Saturday 29 October 2016

Ex-Israeli PM Ehud Barak calls Iran nuclear accord a 'bad deal,' but a 'done deal'

The Iran nuclear deal is inherently flawed, but the state of Israel is under no existential threat and should respect United States sovereignty as a country, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Friday.

"We feel that it's a bad deal, but it's a done deal," Barak told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

He said that while the situation in the Middle East is and will continue to be complicated, the impact of the Iran deal on surrounding countries will not be as chaotic as much of the current rhetoric suggests.

"There is a deal now. The Iranians are not going to break it in the coming five or six years because they want to harvest the benefits of it," he said.

And, while Barak said Iran is likely to continue developing its long-range missiles, sponsoring terror, and fine-tuning its cyberattacks — all of which were excluded from the deal — the former prime minister was confident in the welfare of his country and insisted that it is facing no existential threats.

"I do not underestimate the risk of Iran for a moment. I just keep thinking strategically and concretely," Barak said. "Israel is the strongest country, and I say [that] not just as political position, but as matter of professional judgment."

Any efforts to undo the accord, in Barak's view, would be disrespectful to United States sovereignty. He said the actions of current Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, who lobbied Congress against the nuclear deal, were an overstep into U.S. politics.

Barak said he would have liked to see Netanyahu meet with PresidentBarack Obama behind closed doors to resolve the issue or suggest changes instead of publicly involving the state of Israel in U.S. affairs.

He also said that any efforts to posthumously cancel the deal would be fruitless.

"All the talks about someone that can come out of the blue or through the ballots and just cancel it [are] a little bit hollow because it's not just [an] American-Iranian agreement. China will not follow, Russia will not follow, Germany and France will not follow," he said.

Barak said he hopes that, moving forward, Netanyahu will be able to sit down with American leaders — behind closed doors — to discuss options for the future. He said it is essential for the countries to work together and make sure their intelligence communities are keeping an eye on Iran's moves.

When asked about the next leader of the United States, Barak chose not to respond definitively due to his personal ties to one of the candidates.

Still, he said, "all candidates … post-election ended up being supportive of Israel. It's based not just on world views, but on wide foundations of common and shared values between the Israeli people and the American ones."


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