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Middle East

Iran's Rouhani dismisses Israeli threats

President-elect calls Israel a "miserable regional country" after Netanyahu brands him a "wolf in sheep's clothing".

Last Modified: 17 Jul 2013 13:55
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Hassan Rouhani will succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president on August 3 [AP]

Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president-elect, has brushed off threats of military action by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Referring to the US and Israel, Rouhani said: "When some say that all options are on the table and when a miserable regional country says such things, it makes you laugh."

In an address to Iran-Iraq war veterans on Wednesday, in which he rebuked Netanyahu, Rouhani said: "Who are the Zionists to threaten us?"

He also said that warnings of an Iranian retaliation had stopped Israel from carrying out its threats to launch strikes on the country.

According to the semi-official Mehr news agency, the Iranian foreign ministry characterised Netanyahu’s remarks as Israel's’s interference in the internal affairs of other countries and its attempts to damage other countries' relations with Iran.

Netanyahu on Sunday renewed his threat to take unilateral military action to halt Iran's nuclear programme.

"They're edging up to the red line. They haven't crossed it yet," the Israeli premier told CBS News' "Face the Nation."

"He's [Rouhani] criticising his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf's clothing. His strategy is be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Smile and build a bomb."

He also said that curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions is more urgent for Israel that it is for the US and that Iran must know that Israel is "prepared to take military action."

Western nations believe Iran is seeking the means to make atomic bombs, and have demanded Tehran abandon its most sensitive nuclear work.

But Iran denies the charge and says it needs atomic power for energy generation and medical research.

The election of Rouhani, a relative moderate, on June 14 has raised some hopes for a resolution of the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear intentions.

Rowhani will succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president on August 3, but Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say on nuclear policy.

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