Netanyahu condemns Iran deal as mistake of 'historic proportions'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the nuclear deal concluded by world powers and Iran in Vienna today as a "historic mistake" for the world, accusing the powers of making "far-reaching concessions" to seal an agreement "at any price".

Negotiations between six world powers - the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany - over the scaling back of Iran's nuclear activities concluded, almost a decade after talks began in 2006. In return, Iran will receive the lifting of international sanctions in hope of reviving its squeezed economy. Tehran has maintained that its nuclear activities were always entirely peaceful.

In remarks made at the start of a meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders in Israel, Netanyahu, a consistent opponent of a deal which appeases Iran's perceived nuclear ambitions, said that an agreement would give Tehran more resources to fund terror in the Middle East, where they are linked with supporting groups such as Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

"Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons. Many of the restrictions that were supposed to prevent it from getting there will be lifted," he said.

"Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world," he added. "This is a bad mistake of historic proportions."

"We knew very well that the desire to sign an agreement was stronger than anything, and therefore we did not commit to preventing an agreement," Netanyahu continued. "We did commit to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and this commitment still stands."

Netanyahu has opposed Iran ascending to the status of a nuclear power for almost three decades and the issue has seen US-Israeli relations fall to new lows after he travelled to Washington in March to deliver a speech against the proposed Iran deal in the US Congress without the invitation or approval of US President Barack Obama.

Following the signing of the agreement, the Israeli leader is now facing increasing criticism at home after making the Iran issue his key pledge in March's election where he swept to a third consecutive term in power.

Yair Lapid, chairman of the opposition Yesh Atid party and former Israeli minister of finance under Netanyahu, yesterday condemned the prime minister's approach as a "colossal failure" while Tzipi Livni, leader of the opposition Zionist Union party, called him "ineffective" on Israel Radio this morning. Despite the criticism of Netanyahu, the Israeli elite yesterday united to round on the accord and condemn its imminent signing.

In contrast to Israeli opposition to the historic agreement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini lauded the deal as "a sign of hope for the entire world".

"It is a decision that can open the way to a new chapter in international relations," she said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the agreement was "not perfect for anybody" but the "best achievement that could be reached".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani looked to the future after the deal was concluded, tweeting: "With this unnecessary crisis resolved, new horizons emerge with a focus on shared challenges."