Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cast doubt on the chances of a diplomatic solution stopping Iran’s nuclear program, saying that if President Hassan Rouhani continues to insist that Tehran will not halt centrifuge enrichment, “that means that a final settlement, which is the aim of the diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed.”
Netanyahu made his remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, denouncing for a second time Rouhani’s address at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“We know the truth — there is a regime that under the guise of a charm offensive is attempting to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to become a threshold state that can obtain nuclear weapons very quickly, and one that hasn’t changed a whit of its true ideology,” he continued.
Netanyahu conceded that within Iran there are dissenting opinions regarding the nuclear program, but stressed that that did not change its official policy.
The prime minister also noted that in talks with foreign leaders, he found that officials see through the Iranians’ seemingly moderate position, spearheaded by Rouhani, and are aware of the Islamic Republic’s contradictory positions on Syria and the nuclear program.
On Friday in Davos, Netanyahu said Israel estimates that Iran has spent at least $160 billion on its drive to nuclear weapons. He also world leaders with whom he met in Davos share Israel’s assessment that Iran is bent on attaining the bomb.
And in an immediate response to Rouhani’s speech on Thursday, Netanyahu said that the Iranian president was continuing “Iran’s deception show” and that the international community “must not be fooled and must prevent Iran from attaining the capability to produce nuclear weapons.”
“At a time when Rouhani talks about peace with the countries of the Middle East, he refuses — even today — to recognize the existence of the State of Israel, and his regime daily calls for the destruction of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “At a time when Rouhani claims that Iran is not interested in a nuclear project for military purposes, Iran continues to strengthen its centrifuges and heavy water reactor, and to arm itself with intercontinental missiles, the sole purpose of which is for nuclear weapons.”
Rouhani, in his address, said Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful, denied any nuclear weaponization goals, and said that his country was ready to engage in diplomatic relations with all countries it had officially recognized.
Adiv Sterman contributed to the report.