Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday warned the world not to be tempted by the moderate rhetoric coming out of Iran in recent months.
Speaking upon his return to Israel from the United States, Netanyahu said, “We are engaged in a comprehensive international struggle against the Iranian nuclear program. Next week I will meet with leaders of European countries and I will speak with other world leaders.”
“I will emphasize the fact that the sanctions on Iran can achieve the desired result if they are continued,” said Netanyahu, adding, “The world must not be tempted by the Iranian stratagem into easing sanctions as long as the Iranians do not dismantle their military nuclear program.”
Since being elected, Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani, who the West has branded as a “moderate”, has indicated an interest in a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, with hopes that the harsh sanctions imposed on the country would be lifted if it negotiated more with the West.
At the UN General Assembly last week, Rouhani struck a more moderate tone than his predecessor, Ahmadinejad, which was seen as a step in the right direction by some foreign policy observers.
Netanyahu, however, urged the world to insist on tough negotiations that ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.
He cautioned against Rouhani’s charm offensive, which he described as a strategy carried out to woo the West at the behest of the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
“[The Iranian people] are governed not by Rouhani. They’re governed by Ayatollah Khamenei. He heads a cult. That cult is wild in its ambitions and its aggression,” Netanyahu told NBC News this week.
In his own speech at the UN this past Tuesday, Netanyahu hinted that if all else fails, Israel may attack Iran without international support.
“If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone,” said Netanyahu.
A poll released Friday found that majority of Israelis would support unilateral military action against Iran.
Some 65.6 percent of 500 Jewish Israelis surveyed by the Israel Hayomnewspaper said they would support military strikes to halt Iran’s nuclear program, and 84 percent believed the Islamic republic had no intention of reining in its alleged drive to build a bomb.