Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated his country’s position that the only way to peacefully stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat, asserting that Israel would present that threat alone if need be.
“Don’t let up the pressure [on Iran],” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, adding that the only deal that could be made with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was one that “fully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons programme”.
Describing Rouhani as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, Netanyahu argued that the Iranian president, who has been at the forefront of softening rhetoric and historic increasing engagement with the United States, was not being forthright.
“I wish we could believe Rouhani’s words, but we must focus on Iran’s action,” Netanyahu said, while asserting that the real power in Iran remained the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
He outlined a four-point plan for resolving the dispute of Iran’s nuclear programme diplomatically, warning that if it was not adhered to the threat of military action must remain on the table.
Iran has consistently denied that it has a nuclear weapons programme, saying that its nuclear programme is for civilian use in the energy and medical sectors only.
Khodadad Seifi, a deputy ambassador at Iran’s UN mission, responded to Netanyahu’s speech by terming it “extremely inflammatory” and categorically rejected all of his “unfounded accusations”.
Seifi asserted Iran’s “sovereign right” to a peaceful nuclear programme.
Netanyahu pointed to the impact of tough international sanctions on the Iranian economy, and urged world powers to keep up the pressure.
“We all want to give diplomacy […] a chance to succeed. But when it comes to Iran, the greater the pressure, the greater the chance,” he said.
He also warned that Israel was prepared to present a military threat to Iran on the issue of its alleged nuclear weapons programme alone, if need be.
“I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”
The Israeli prime minister, whose government has recently re-entered negotiations with Palestinians, also said that his government remained committed to “a demilitarised Palestinian state that recognises the Jewish state of Israel” and its “security needs”.