Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Iran poses more of a threat to the West than the ultra-radical Islamic State group and that Tehran is planning to “take over the world.”
“Iran’s growing aggression is several times more dangerous than that of IS, which is dangerous enough,” Netanyahu told a memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, marking 111 years since the death of Theodor Herzl, the visionary forefather of modern Zionism.
“And this aggression, which aims to reach every corner of the world, has the ultimate true aim of taking over the world,” he added.
Although Shiite Iranians and the Sunni Islamic State group have been fighting each other, they share the common goal of destroying Western values, said Netanyahu, who often equates the Islamic State to Iran, as well as to Palestinian militant groups.
“The radical Shiite camp under Iranian leadership on one side, and the Sunni spearhead in the form of the Islamic State group on the other, are applying cruel terror with shocking zeal and carrying out a war to the death among themselves,” he said. “Meanwhile, they are united in their hostility to the West and willingly trample on the achievements of freedom and progress.”
Netanyahu criticized an emerging deal between world powers and Iran over the latter’s controversial nuclear program, which, he argued, caves to too many of the Iranians’ demands. The prime minister has strongly opposed the deal, claiming that not only does it not go far enough toward putting nuclear arms beyond Iran’s reach, but actually aids its quest for such weapons.
“Iran, which is the greatest patron of terror in the world, is extorting from world powers more and more concessions,” he claimed. “Iran is the greatest threat to world peace. The capitulation agreement that Iran is about to get from world powers is paving the way for it to arm itself with nuclear weapons and to carry them further with the missiles that it continues to develop, and of course to spread terror.”
Iran sponsors of the Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah group and Islamist Palestinian factions, which Israel and many Western countries consider terror organizations. Tehran and Hezbollah have been accused of masterminding major international terror attacks, including the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Argentina, which killed 85, and the 1983 bombing of the US Army barracks in Beirut, in which 299 servicemen died.
Ministers from the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany — the so-called P5+1 nations — further extended nuclear talks with Iran Tuesday after missing a second deadline in a week.
The deadline was the latest to have been set for a comprehensive pact that would replace the interim deal world powers and Iran reached in November 2013. That package was extended three times, most recently on June 30.
The deal, aimed at ending a 13-year-old standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, would build on a framework accord reached in April in Switzerland.
World powers fear Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons, an accusation the Iranians deny.
AP contributed to this report.