Statement on Netanyahu's Speech

Contact: Kayvon Afshari
Phone: 347-9878-5291

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing a historic Joint Session of Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing a historic Joint Session of Congress

Following much anticipation and commentary, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered his address to a joint session of the US Congress on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. He argued that the P5+1 nuclear negotiators are being duped into a “very bad deal” with Iran, and that, coupled with the Islamic Republic’s misbehavior and untrustworthiness, the deal threatens the long-term existence of Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu, citing media reports on a deal that is supposedly being made between Iran and the P5+1, faulted the concessions to Iran on two specific grounds: 1) it leaves Iran’s nuclear facilities in place; and 2) it stipulates a sunset clause [of about 10 years] after which Iran’s enrichment program will be considered normal. Regarding the sunset clause, he said,

“...virtually all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade. Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it’s the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It’s a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran’s nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted.”

Mr. Netanyahu made only broad references to his preferred deal which supposedly will dismantle much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and eliminate the sunset condition. To achieve his deal, Mr. Netanyahu said that the 5+1 must ask for more concessions, and to extract the concessions, the pressure on Iran must increase.  

It is important to note that Mr. Netanyahu did not call for an end to the negotiations and did not threaten attack on Iran. He even dismissed the argument that a collapse of the current negotiations will lead to a war. Indeed, Mr. Netanyahu’s speech more than anything reflected his desire to play “bad cop” as the Obama Administration negotiates for more concessions from Iran.

The American Iranian Council understands Mr. Netanyahu’s concern but disagrees with his coercive approach—which has proven to be counterproductive. In truth, Israel, Iran, the United States, regional players, and others do have legitimate security, energy, proliferation and regional stability concerns, and that these must be addressed in any sustainable nuclear deal. 

Addressing the need for a viable and sustainable nuclear deal, AIC President Hooshang Amirahmadi said, “a stopgap deal that makes the negotiating parties claim victory but leaves a resolution of the concerns unaddressed will only create more problems than it will solve.” Professor Amirahmadi stressed that a resolution of the concerns is not only imperative but also feasible. For a helpful roadmap in that direction, he referred to the AIC’s 2009 White Paper, which outlines the specific necessary steps and concessions.

Finally, the Council is troubled by Mr. Netanyahu’s selective reference to a dubious historical narrative in which an ancient Iranian king had supposedly wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Mr. Prime Minister could have more accurately referred to the noble Iranian king, Cyrus The Great, who is universally credited for freeing the Jewish people of Babel.

The American Iranian Council
Princeton, NJ March 3, 2015


Kayvon Afshari

Kayvon Afshari managed the campaign to elect Hooshang Amirahmadi as President of Iran. In this role, he directed the campaign’s event planning, publicity, online social media, web analytics, and delivered speeches. Mr. Afshari has also been working at the CBS News foreign desk for over five years. He has coordinated coverage of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations, the Arab Spring, the earthquake in Haiti, and many other stories of international significance. He holds a Master in International Relations from New York University’s Department of Politics, and graduated with distinction from McGill University in 2007 with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies. At NYU, his research focused on quantitative analysis and the Middle East with an emphasis on US-Iran relations. In his 2012 Master’s thesis, he devised a formula to predict whether Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, concluding that an overt strike would not materialize.