WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seizing the opportunity to speak in the U.S. House to deliver his stern message about the danger Iran poses to his nation’s survival and voice reservations about any nuclear deal President Barack Obama and international negotiators might sign with Israel’s archenemy.
Netanyahu insists he is privy to emerging details of a deal and is expected to lay out specific concerns in Tuesday’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress. It will be a last-ditch effort for Netanyahu to speak out against any agreement that would leave open a chance for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.
The controversial speech comes just two weeks ahead of a tight national election in which Netanyahu is fighting to hold onto his job. It has already aggravated strained relations between Israel and the Obama administration and it comes as negotiators are rushing to reach a nuclear agreement by the end of the month.
“I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that’s devouring country after country in the Middle East, that’s exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing, as we speak, the capacity to make nuclear weapons — lots of them,” Netanyahu told America’s leading pro-Israel lobby on Monday in what amounted to a warm-up to his speech to Congress.
The Israeli leader is deeply suspicious of international efforts to reach a nuclear deal. Netanyahu fears the U.S. and its negotiating partners will give Iran too many concessions, leaving it on the cusp of developing an atomic bomb.