Netanyahu seeks better nuclear deal on Iran

Apr 06, 2015, 1:32 AM EDT
 this handout provided by the Israeli Government Press Office, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) delivers a statement to the press on April 3, 2015 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu delivered a speech discussing a pending nuclear deal with Iran.
AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the United States on Sunday to seek a better deal to curb Iran's nuclear program and said he would press American lawmakers not to give Tehran "a free path to the bomb," reports Reuters.

President Barack Obama, hoping to sway skeptics at home and abroad to get behind the framework agreement struck on Thursday between world powers and Iran, defended the deal as the best hope to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Obama, whose relations with Netanyahu have frayed badly over the Iran issue, sought to assure Israelis he understands their concerns.

They should know "there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward - and that’s demonstrable," he said in an interview with The New York Times published on Sunday.

The Israeli prime minister has been strongly critical of the deal struck on Thursday in Switzerland, saying it threatens the survival of Israel. Netanyahu said he has spoken with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress - nearly two thirds of House of Representatives members and a similar number in the U.S. Senate - about the Iran nuclear issue.

In appearances on U.S. television on Sunday, Netanyahu did not repeat his assertion on Friday that any final agreement should include a commitment by Iran recognizing Israel's right to exist.

But, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" program, he said of the deal, "This is not a partisan issue. This is not solely an Israeli issue. This is a world issue because everyone is going to be threatened by the pre-eminent terrorist state of our time, keeping the infrastructure to produce not one nuclear bomb but many, many nuclear bombs down the line."