British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, trying to reassure the latter that the Iran nuclear deal offers "robust measures" to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at his Jerusalem office on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. The nuclear deal with Iran could strike a heavy personal blow to Netanyahu, leaving him at odds with the international community and with few options for scuttling an agreement he has spent years trying to prevent. (AP Photo/Oren Ben Hakoon)[/caption]
Hammond arrived in Israel Wednesday night for talks with Israeli leaders on this week's nuclear agreement, a day after the hardliner Israeli prime minister announced his country remains in its opposition to the agreement and does not see itself bound by it.
"We would not have agreed to the deal unless we were sure we had robust measures in place to deliver effective oversight of Iran's nuclear programme," Hammond said at a joint press conference before meeting with Netanyahu.
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"Our focus now will be on swift and full implementation of the agreement to make sure that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran's reach," he said.
Netanyahu rebuked Hammond's words by saying that the agreement threatens Israel's existence and regional peace and security.
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Visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference in the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Netanyahu and Hammond sparred publicly Thursday over the international nuclear deal with Iran, veering off prepared comments to exchange sharply different positions toward the agreement. (Debbie Hill, Pool Photo via AP)[/caption]
"There is no requirement for Iran to change its behaviour and that's what makes this deal fundamentally wrong," he said, adding that scores were chanting "Death to Israel" in a rally in Teheran just days before the deal was signed.
Hammond answered him that "we will judge Iran not by the chants of the crowds on the streets of Teheran but the actions of its government and their agents around the region".
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"We are not naive about this," he added. "We understand that many disputes with Iran about its regional conduct will remain and will have to be dealt with in the months and years to come," he said.
Netanyahu said Israel will welcome "a better deal that would roll back Iran's military nuclear programme and tie the easing of restrictions on Iran's nuclear programme to changes in Iran's behaviour".
"Israel would embrace a good deal that would compel Iran to choose between a path to the bomb and sanctions relief," he said, adding that "that's not a triumph for diplomacy, but a failure of diplomacy".
"Despite our different views, I urge Israel to work with us to ensure the deal's fully implemented and effectively monitored," Hammond said.
Hammond was the first high-ranked official from the P5+1 countries -- the US, China, Britain, Russia, Germany and France -- to arrive in Israel after they signed an historic agreement on Tuesday to put Iran on the path of sanctions relief in exchange to more strict limits on its nuclear programme.