Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s United Nations speech Tuesday was a public relations stunt to lull the west into believing that Tehran had softened its stance on its nuclear weapons program, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned overnight Tuesday.
“It was a cynical speech full of hypocrisy,” said Netanyahu in a statement he issued from Jerusalem hours after the newly elected Iranian president made his first appearance before the General Assembly in New York.
Upon Netanyahu’s orders the Israeli delegation was not in the General Assembly plenum when Rouhani spoke.
Rouhani has promised world leaders that Iran’s nuclear program was for peaceful purposed and that nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction had no place in his country.
The international community’s sanctions leveled against Iran has violated its inalienable human rights, Rouhani said.
Iran wants to constructively engage with other countries and to decrease tensions with the United States, Rouhani said.
He alluded to Israel’s insistence that a credible military threat was needed against Tehran, when he said he hoped the US would not “follow the short sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups.”
After listening to US President Barack Obama’s speech earlier Tuesday, Rouhani said he believed that that a framework could be created “to manage our difference.”
But although Rouhani’s words were tamer than those of his predecessor, Netanyahu said he was not swayed.
Rouhani spoke of human rights even as Iranian forces have slaughtered innocent civilians in Syria and backed terrorism in dozens of countries, Netanyahu said.
Iran has not invested capital in ballistic missiles and underground nuclear facilities just to produce electricity, Netanyahu said.
“It is no coincidence that the speech lacked both any practical proposal to stop Iran's military nuclear program and any commitment to fulfill UN Security Council decisions,” Netanyahu said.
He warned that Tehran’s strategy was to use negotiations with the West on its nuclear program as a fig leaf to hide its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said.
“The international community must test Iran not by its words but by its actions,” Netanyahu said.
He added that he was glad Israel had not lent legitimacy to Rouhani by sitting in the plenum as he spoke.
“As the Prime Minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I could not allow the Israeli delegation to be part of a cynical public relations ploy by a regime that denies the Holocaust and calls for our destruction," Netanyahu said.
It’s the second harsh statement he has issued against Iran in the last two days.
When Netanyahu addresses the UN General Assembly next Tuesday, he is expected to focus on Iran and warn the international community to learn from its mistakes with North Korea, which engaged in diplomacy to hide its development of nuclear weapons.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz delivered this message to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, when he met with him in New York.
Steinitz noted that Ban as a citizen of South Korea should understand Israel’s concern better than anyone.
“You understand better than anyone the disastrous consequences of the agreements based on gestures and illusions,” Steinitz said.