Netanyahu Warns UN of Rouhani ‘Ruse’, Says ‘Israel Will Not Allow Iran to Get Nuclear Weapons’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed out the UN General Assembly on Tuesday by warning the world not to fall prey to the “charm offensive” of Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani, adding that if it did, Israel would “stand alone and know that we will be defending many, many others,” who could be victims of a nuclear-armed Iran.
“I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things. And the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric,” Netanyahu said, referring to the Iranian leader’s kinder, gentler words as “a ruse, a ploy.”
Since taking office in August, Rouhani has served up conciliatory remarks and expressed his desire to reach a diplomatic solution to his country’s stand-off with the West over its nuclear program.
“Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Netanyahu said, referring to the current president’s predecessor, who often used the UN General Assembly to attack Israel.
“Like everyone else, I wish we could believe Rouhani’s words, but we must focus on Iran’s actions, and its the extraordinary contradiction between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling,” he continued, pointing out acts of terrorism committed by the Islamic Republic since its revolution in 1979, including the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1994 that left 85 people dead while Rouhani led Iran’s Department of Foreign Policy and National Security.
“It’s not hard to find evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, it’s hard to find evidence that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said, adding that the Islamic Republic has not crossed his ‘red line,’ but that the country is positioning itself to “race across that line in the future.”
“Iran wants to be in a position to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it,” he said.
Reiterating his argument that the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is through sanctions and a credible military threat, Netanyahu admitted that the approach had, thus far, been successful, but that it hadn’t thwarted Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy,” Netanyahu said.”Revenues have fallen, the currency has plummeted […] as a result the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed. That’s why Rouhani got elected in the first place. That’s why he launched his charm offensive. He definitely wants to get the sanctions lifted […] but he doesn’t want to give up Iran’s nuclear weapons program in return.”
Netanyahu also equated Iran’s attempts at mollifying the West’s fears with that of North Korea which had reached a diplomatic agreement with countries to curb its nuclear program, only to test a weapon a year after promising not to do so.
Advocating for further sanctions, Netanyahu said that there should be no let up until Iran’s nuclear program has been fully dismantled.
His approach to Iran’s nuclear program would be to “distrust, dismantle and verify,”he said, concluding, “I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons.”