On February 15, President Donald Trump condemned the Iran nuclear deal during a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Trump said it is “one of the worst deals” he’s ever seen and that his administration would do more to prevent Tehran from attaining a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu lauded Trump for his administration’s strong reaction to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test, including imposing new sanctions. He also alleged that the Islamic Republic wants a nuclear arsenal of “a hundred” bombs, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. Two days later, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded with a tweet.
The only regime in ME with nukes, ICBMs & a history of aggression whines about Iran's means of defense. Fear-mongering hype IS fake news.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 17, 2017
The following are excerpted remarks by the Trump and Netanyahu on Iran.
President Donald Trump
“The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran's nuclear ambitions, which I've talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I've ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing -- I mean ever -- a nuclear weapon.”
“Our security assistance to Israel is currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats of which there are unfortunately many. Both of our countries will continue and grow. We have a long history of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against those who do not value human life. America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
“As you have said, our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interests. And, increasingly, those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force: radical Islamic terror. Mr. President, you’ve shown great clarity and courage in confronting this challenge head-on. You call for confronting Iran’s terrorist regime, preventing Iran from realizing this terrible deal into a nuclear arsenal. And you have said that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. You call for the defeat of ISIS. Under your leadership, I believe we can reverse the rising tide of radical Islam. And in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you and I stand with you.
“Mr. President, in rolling back militant Islam, we can seize an historic opportunity -- because, for the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but, increasingly, as an ally. And I believe that under your leadership, this change in our region creates an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen security and advance peace.”
“One thing is preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons -- something that President Trump and I think are deeply committed to do. And we are obviously going to discuss that.
“I think, beyond that, President Trump has led a very important effort in the past few weeks, just coming into the presidency. He pointed out there are violations, Iranian violations on ballistic missile tests. By the way, these ballistic missiles are inscribed in Hebrew, "Israel must be destroyed." The Palestinian -- rather the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said, well, our ballistic missiles are not intended against any country. No. They write on the missile in Hebrew, "Israel must be destroyed."
“So challenging Iran on its violations of ballistic missiles, imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, preventing them, making them pay for the terrorism that they foment throughout the Middle East and beyond, well beyond -- I think that's a change that is clearly evident since President Trump took office. I welcome that. I think it's -- let me say this very openly: I think it's long overdue, and I think that if we work together -- and not just the United States and Israel, but so many others in the region who see eye to eye on the great magnitude and danger of the Iranian threat, then I think we can roll back Iran's aggression and danger. And that's something that is important for Israel, the Arab states, but I think it's vitally important for America. These guys are developing ICBMs. They're developing -- they want to get to a nuclear arsenal, not a bomb, a hundred bombs. And they want to have the ability to launch them everywhere on Earth, and including, and especially, eventually, the United States.
“So this is something that is important for all of us. I welcome the change, and I intend to work with President Trump very closely so that we can thwart this danger.”