Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Iranian President Hassan Rowhani’s pro-democracy rhetoric as a “ruse” and a “ploy,” and vowed that Israel is prepared to take unilateral actions to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons during an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
“Rowhani doesn’t sound like [former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad], but when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this,” said Netanyahu. “Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, Rowhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Netanyahu said Iran has forged ahead with its nuclear weapons program under Rowhani, while continuing to support the Assad regime and plot international terrorist acts.
He also quoted from Rowhani’s memoir, where he wrote about stringing the West along while working as Iran’s nuclear negotiator 10 years ago.
“You know why Rowhani thinks he can get away with this?” said Netanyahu. “Because he’s gotten away with it before. Because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past. … Rowhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too.”
The Israeli prime minister urged the international community not to relax sanctions on Iran unless it fully dismantles its nuclear weapons program. Iran has been lobbying for sanctions reductions during the UN General Assembly.
Netanyahu also said those who say Iran’s anti-Israel rhetoric is just “bluster” have forgotten the lessons of World War II.
“The world may have forgotten this lesson,” said Netanyahu. “The Jewish people have not. Iran’s fanatacism is not bluster.”
He reiterated that Israel would act alone to prevent the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon, if necessary.
“Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map,” said Netanyahu. “Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone Israel will know that that we will be defending many, many others.”
Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama on Monday. The administration has recently been reaching out to the Iranian regime, and Obama placed a phone call to Rowhani while he was in the U.S. for the UN General Assembly last week.