Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani on Wednesday struck back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following his address at the UN the day before, saying that Israel’s outrage at Iran’s empowerment pleases the Islamic Republic.
“Israel is upset to see that its sword has gone blunt and Iran grows more powerful day by day,” Rouhani told reporters in Tehran, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Rouhani also promised to continue Iran’s nuclear program with “full power.”
Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Netanyahu devoted the overwhelming majority of his address to condemning Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which it pursued, he said, while hiding “behind a smokescreen of diplomatic engagement.” The prime minister called on the international community to “mistrust, dismantle and verify” during its nuclear talks with Iran. He warned that Israel was prepared to act alone should diplomacy fail to halt Iran’s nuclear drive.
“That an aggressive regime in the region names Iran with coarse language is the cause of our happiness,” Rouhani said following a cabinet meeting.
The Iranian president — branded a duplicitous “wolf in sheep’s clothing” by Netanyahu on Tuesday — reiterated that Tehran’s nuclear program was for peaceful, nonmilitary purposes only, and said “we have nothing to hide in the field of nuclear energy,” the Iranian Republic New Agency reported.
According to the semi-official Press TV, Rouhani said that after 34 years of a “very dark atmosphere” in US-Iran relations, a detente between the two countries would not be achieved overnight.
Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s chief of staff, also responded to Netanyahu’s statements on Wednesday, calling the prime minister a “warmonger” for his promise that Israel would stop Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, Fars reported.
“Netanyahu has marked his name as a warmonger on the UN walls,” charged Firouzabadi, “and gained nothing but amplifying the Zionists’ threats through these comments.”
Firouzabadi added that Netanyahu’s speech showed desperation on the part of Israel.
Iran’s UN delegation on Tuesday warned Israel not to so much as “think about” attacking it, telling Israel not to “miscalculate” and stressing the Islamic Republic’s ability to defend itself.
Khodadad Seifi, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the UN, utilized a right of reply to speak immediately after Netanyahu’s address to the General Assembly, and said that he wouldn’t “dignify such unfounded accusations with an answer, other than categorically rejecting them all.”
He added: “Iranians are proud of being the best at exercising their inherent right of self-defense… Therefore, the Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran, let alone planning for that.”