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Israel still vows to block an Iran nuclear bomb

AHIKAM SERI/EPA/Pool

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Tuesday during a news conference in Jerusalem.

Associated Press 

Following the news that the United States had reached a nuclear agreement with Iran, reaction from around the world was swift. Here’s a look at what world leaders are saying.

Israel

Israel’s prime minister condemned Tuesday’s international nuclear agreement with Iran as a ‘‘stunning historic mistake’’ and said his country is not bound by the deal, strongly hinting that military action remains an option.

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Benjamin Netanyahu has been a leading opponent of the deal since its contours were announced earlier this year and conciliatory statements by both the United States and Iranian leaders did nothing to change his sentiment.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the agreement would lift painful economic sanctions against Iran — bringing in a much needed influx of funds — without stopping it from developing a capacity to prevent nuclear weapons.

‘‘This cash bonanza will fuel Iran’s terrorism worldwide, its aggression in region, and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing,’’ he said.

He said the deal does nothing to address Iran’s ‘‘aggressive’’ behavior in the region, which includes support for anti-Israel militant groups, such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, and frequent references to Israel’s destruction.

He noted that just last Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani participated in a parade where American and Israeli flags were burned.

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Netanyahu also said the deal ‘‘repeats the mistakes’’ of an earlier international agreement with North Korea, in which a system of inspections and verifications failed to prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

When the deal expires in a decade, an ‘‘unreformed, unrepentant and far richer terrorist regime’’ in Tehran will have the capacity to build an entire nuclear arsenal, Netanyahu added.

‘‘What a stunning historic mistake,’’ he said, stressing that Israel is not bound by the deal. ‘‘We will always defend ourselves,’’ he said.

Such sentiments were echoed across the political spectrum in Israel, where concern is high that the country’s archenemy has duped the world and will acquire nuclear weapons to use against Israel.

Netanyahu has been at the forefront of global opposition to the nuclear deal and has openly clashed with the Obama administration and other global powers that negotiated the deal, which lifts sanctions in return for greater restrictions on its nuclear program.

In the past, Israel has threatened to carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. Despite Netanyahu’s latest comments, that option now appears remote.

Israel’s first course of action looks to be an intense lobbying effort in the U.S. Congress to oppose the deal. Netanyahu spoke against the emerging deal before a joint session of Congress in March. Yet despite strong opposition to the deal among Republicans in Congress, there is little that can be done now.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel ‘‘will employ all diplomatic means to prevent confirmation of the agreement.’’

Netanyahu’s coalition partners angrily criticized Wednesday’s agreement. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the hawkish Jewish Home party, said July 14 will be remembered a ‘‘dark day for the free world.’’ Cabinet Minister Miri Regev said the agreement gave Iran a ‘‘license to kill.’’

The cascade of criticism crossed party lines, reflecting the widespread opposition to the deal in Israel.

‘‘This is a regime based in deceit, and now they are going to do what they did for the last 20 years, which is trying to get themselves nuclear weapons behind the back of the world,’’ Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition Yesh Atid Party, told The Associated Press. ‘‘Now they are going to do it with the help of the international community.’’

Netanyahu called on all sides to ‘‘put petty politics aside’’ and unite behind opposing Iran.

The Vatican

The Vatican welcomed the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and expressed hope that the progress would extend to other areas.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told journalists the agreement ‘‘is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See’’ and noted that continued efforts ‘‘on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit.’’

Lombardi said that ‘‘it is hoped that those fruits will not be limited’’ to the nuclear program alone.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the deal with Iran has brought the world ‘‘a sigh of relief.’’

In a statement published on the Kremlin website, Putin also said that ‘‘Russia will do its utmost to make sure that the Vienna agreement is fully implemented, thus contributing to the international and regional security.’’

Syria

Syria’s President Bashar Assad says the signing of a nuclear agreement is ‘‘a historic turning point’’ in the history of Iran and its relationship with countries of the region and beyond.

Assad’s comments came as he congratulated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the deal signed Tuesday.

Assad says coming days will witness a ‘‘strengthening of the constructive role played by Iran in supporting the rights of nations.’’

Iran is a key supporter of Assad. It has poured in millions of dollars’ worth of help to prop up Assad’s army in recent years as it fights an insurgency and rebels seeking to topple his rule.

United Kingdom

Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, described the deal with Iran as historic, saying it ‘‘secures our fundamental aim — to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon — and that will help to make our world a safer place.’’

He said the deal required leadership, courage and determination and that it was time to move forward and put it into place.

Cameron said Iran will reap economic benefits, so long as it delivers on everything it has agreed to do.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s foreign ministry welcomed the agreement that was reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna.

In a statement released Tuesday, the ministry said Pakistan had consistently maintained that the Iran nuclear issue should be peacefully resolved through dialogue. Noting Pakistan’s position as a neighbor to Iran, the foreign ministry said such confidence-building measures ‘‘auger well for peace and security in our region.’’