JERUSALEM.- German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the Iran nuclear deal in an interview with an Israeli TV channel, saying an imperfect deal is better than no deal and that her country will “watch very closely” to ensure it is being fulfilled.
Her comments were broadcast Sunday, ahead of a meeting in Washington this week with President Donald Trump who vows to withdraw from the agreement by May 12 unless U.S. and European negotiators agree to fix what he calls its serious flaws. Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron, a fellow defender of the Iran deal, begins a state visit in the U.S. on Monday.
The 2015 deal, negotiated by the U.S. and other world powers, curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vehemently opposed the agreement, saying it falls short of containing the nuclear ambitions of Iran, a declared foe of Israel. Merkel told Israel TV’s Channel 10 that she can understand the “great worries in Israel, concerning what is emanating from Iran.”
“The issue on which we disagree is how we can best contain this,” she said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that the nuclear deal with Iran does not provide the security Israel desires. We believe it’s better to have this agreement, even if it is not perfect, than to have no agreement.
We will continue to discuss this, but Germany will watch very closely to ensure that this agreement will be fulfilled.” Germany remains one of Israel’s closest allies, but the relationship has been strained at times over the Netanyahu government’s settlement expansion in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, war-won lands the Palestinians seek for a future state.