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Netanyahu praises Trump's 'bold' withdrawal from Iran deal

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed strong support for US President Donald Trump's "bold" decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which the Israeli leader has repeatedly criticised.

Israel's army meanwhile asked authorities in the occupied Golan Heights to open and prepare missile shelters due to "irregular activity by Iranian forces" over the demarcation line in Syria.

"Israel fully supports President Trump's bold decision yesterday to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran," Netanyahu said in a televised address, referring to the multinational accord with his country's main enemy.

Netanyahu, speaking shortly after Trump's announcement on Tuesday, said leaving the current deal in place was "a recipe for disaster, a disaster for our region, a disaster for the peace of the world".

"This is why Israel thinks that President Trump did an historic move." Netanyahu on April 30 unveiled tens of thousands of intelligence documents in another televised address that he said showed Iran's secret nuclear weapons ambitions.

Trump referred to the intelligence trove in his speech announcing the withdrawal.    Proponents of the nuclear deal argued the trove of documents Israel says it obtained from Tehran shed little new light on Iran's nuclear programme and, in fact, made the case for why the accord is important.

Netanyahu argues the documents show the deal was built on a lie -- Iran denied having pursued nuclear weapons -- and demonstrate that Tehran has a secret atomic weapons programme ready to activate at any time.

Trump and his allies in the Middle East, particularly Israel, argue the agreement was too weak and needed to be replaced with a more permanent arrangement, supplemented by controls on Iran's missile programme.

They also say the lifting of sanctions against Iran under the deal had increased its ability to finance proxy militants and other forms of aggression.

Netanyahu defied then president Barack Obama in 2015 when he appeared before the US Congress to denounce the deal that was still being negotiated.

Israel is believed to be the Middle East's sole nuclear-armed power, but it has never acknowledged the capability. Shortly before Trump's announcement, Israel's military issued the notice regarding Iranian forces in Syria.

"Following the identification of irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) has decided to change the civilian protection instructions in the Golan Heights and instructs local authorities to unlock and ready shelters in the area," the army said in a statement.

"Additionally, defence systems have been deployed and IDF troops are on high alert for an attack." Israeli media also reported that military reservists for the air force, intelligence and civil defence had been recalled. The military confirmed only a partial recall of reservists.

Israel has pledged not to allow Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria, where Tehran is backing President Bashar al-Assad's regime. It has been accused of carrying out deadly strikes on bases in Syria out of which Iranian forces operate, raising fears in Israel that Iran could seek to retaliate.

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