- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2015

President Obama said Monday it would be a “fundamental misjudgment” to try and force Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist, or to make such a demand as part of broader negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

In an interview with NPR, the president said it is unrealistic to think Iran suddenly will change course and recognize Israel. Iranian leaders not only do not acknowledge Israel’s existence, they also have called for the destruction of the Jewish state on repeated occasions.

Still, Mr. Obama indicated nuclear negotiations must be kept separate from animosity between Iran and Israel.

“The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,” the president said. “And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.”

He said the point of negotiating, in fact, is premised on a judgement that the Islamic Republic — which also supports terrorists and engages in deadly discrimination at home against women, gays and religious minorities — will not change any time soon.

“I want to return to this point: We want Iran not to have nuclear weapons precisely because we can’t bank on the nature of the regime changing. That’s exactly why we don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. If suddenly Iran transformed itself to Germany or Sweden or France then there would be a different set of conversations about their nuclear infrastructure,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the U.S-led nuclear negotiations with Iran, which last week produced a preliminary deal between the two sides. He fears Iran still will be left with nuclear capabilities that could threaten Israel.

“The real problem in the Middle East is not the democracy of Israel that has shown restraint and responsibility, but it is countries like Iran that pursue nuclear weapons with the explicit goal first of annihilating us but also ultimately conquering the Middle East and threatening” the U.S., Mr. Netanyahu said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

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