Netanyahu looking menacing 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Jerusalem urged the world on Thursday not to be fooled by Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani’s smiles and to intensify sanctions against the regime until he
takes concrete steps toward dismantling Tehran’s nuclear program.
should not be taken in by Rouhani’s deceptive words,” the Prime Minister’s
Office said in a statement. “The same Rouhani boasted in the past how he
deceived the international community with nuclear talks, even as Iran was
continuing with its nuclear program.”
The Prime Minister’s Office
comments followed the Iranian president’s two-part interview with NBC
Wednesday and Thursday that aired just before he is to fly to the US and address
the UN General Assembly.
Rouhani said Iran was not seeking war, and
slammed Israel for bringing “instability” to the Middle East and for questioning
his government’s intentions toward nuclear arms.
He called Israel “an
occupier, a usurper government that does injustice to the people of the region,”
and said it “has brought instability to the region with its war-mongering
The Prime Minister’s Office ridiculed Rouhani for accusing
Israel of causing instability in the region at a time when Iran was sending
people into Syria to slaughter innocent civilians, and was supporting terrorism
around the world.
Rouhani said during the first part of the interview
that Iran would never develop nuclear weapons and that he had “complete
authority” to negotiate a nuclear deal with the United States and other Western
The Iranian leader, who took office in August, reiterated that
stance when asked about recent comments by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
questioning his motives and calling him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
have clearly stated that we are not in pursuit of nuclear weapons and will not
be,” Rouhani told NBC.
The Prime Minister’s Office dismissed this as
“spin” designed to ensure that the “centrifuges continue to spin,” and said the
International Atomic Energy Agency had determined otherwise.
combination of stopping uranium enrichment, removing all enriched uranium,
dismantling the nuclear facility at Qom and stopping the plutonium track will
constitute a real halt to the nuclear program,” the PMO said.
these four steps are taken, the international community needs to intensify the
pressure on Iran.
“The test is not Rouhani’s words, but rather the
Iranian regime’s actions. Even while Rouhani was being interviewed, Iran was
moving forward energetically with its nuclear program,” it
Rouhani’s regime is trying to cut a deal with the international
community whereby it will give up an insignificant part of its nuclear program but retain and further
fortify its ability to quickly develop nuclear arms at a time of its choosing,
the Prime Minister’s Office said.
According to one Israeli official,
Rouhani was long on smiles but short on substance during the interview, not
saying yes or no when asked whether Israel should be wiped off the map, and not
responding directly when asked whether, like his predecessor Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, he believed the Holocaust was a myth. Asked about the Holocaust
directly, Rouhani replied, “What is important to Iran is that countries, people
in the region grow closer and prevent aggression and injustice.”
Prime Minister’s Office responded to his comment on the Holocaust saying “one
doesn’t need to be a historian to recognize the existence of the Holocaust, one
need only be human.”
The interview was the latest of moves by Rouhani –
which included a recent letter exchange
with US President Barack Obama – aimed
at improving relations with the West.
The White House said on Thursday
that the president is open to direct talks between Iran and the US, but only if
Tehran is serious about getting rid of its nuclear weapons program.
House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Rouhani delivered some positive-
sounding rhetoric in the NBC interview but “actions are more important than
When Obama first ran for president in 2008, he said he would hold
direct negotiations with Iran under certain conditions.
Carney said Obama
still holds that position.
Obama, according to Carney, would be willing
to have bilateral negotiations provided the Iranians were serious about
addressing the international community’s insistence that Tehran give up its
nuclear weapons program.
“That is the position we hold today,” Carney
With both Rouhani and Obama attending the UN General Assembly next
week, speculation has grown that the two leaders might have an encounter of some
type. Carney said no meeting is scheduled.
It would be a significant
contact – no American president has met a top Iranian leader since the 1979
overthrow of the shah and the taking of American hostages at the US Embassy in
Tehran.Reuters contributed to this report.