WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly will liken Iran to North Korea in his UN General Assembly speech.
The speech is Netanyahu’s bid to emphasize Israeli reservations about any rapprochement with Iran by the United Nations.
“Iran must not be allowed to repeat North Korea’s ploy to get nuclear weapons,” an Israeli official told The New York Times in a story posted online Sunday describing Netanyahu’s planned Oct. 1 speech to the General Assembly.
“Just like North Korea before it, Iran professes to seemingly peaceful intentions,” the Times quoted the official as saying. “It talks the talk of nonproliferation while seeking to ease sanctions and buy more time for its nuclear program.”
North Korea suspended its nuclear program in 1994 under a deal brokered by the Clinton administration, but the agreement foundered in the mid-2000s amid tensions between the rogue state and the George W. Bush administration, and North Korea now claims to have nuclear weapons.
President Obama has exchanged private letters with the new Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani, and Obama administration officials have greeted as positive offers by Rouhani to make Iran’s nuclear program more transparent in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.
Although Netanyahu has not explicitly opposed Obama’s overtures, the Israeli leader has made it clear that he is opposed to the reported contours of any deal with Iran.
Last week, he said any deal with Iran “requires” an end to enrichment and the removal of all enriched uranium. Western officials reportedly are ready to accommodate a degree of continued Iranian enrichment.
Netanyahu also has called Rouhani a “wolf in cheep’s clothing.”
“A bad agreement is worse than no agreement at all,” the Israeli official told the Times.
US officials have said they will pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue this week during the launch of the General Assembly while continuing to consult closely with Israel.
“We coordinate very closely with the Israeli government in terms of our monitoring of the Iranian nuclear program,” Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, said Friday in a conference call with the media outlining Obama’s UN activities this week.
Later, he said, “it’s our assessment that there is time to pursue a diplomatic outcome, particularly given the pressure that we’ve put in place.”
Obama and Rouhani are both scheduled to address the General Assembly on Tuesday, but Rhodes said they were not scheduled to meet.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.