Netanyahu: Rouhani’s attempts to stave off US sanctions will fail

PM says Iran displaying ‘brazen gall’ in seeking European economic guarantees, even as it plans attacks on the continent

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an American Independence Day celebration Airport City, on July 3, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an American Independence Day celebration Airport City, on July 3, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will fail in his bid to stave off American sanctions during his ongoing lobbying trip to Europe to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.

Rouhani arrived late Tuesday in Vienna hoping to boost economic cooperation to help offset the return of US sanctions following Washington’s pullout from the historic deal. His visit came after the arrest of an Iranian diplomat, along with five others, over an alleged bomb plot against opposition exiles in Paris.

The prime minister accused Iran of “hypocrisy” in seeking European support, even as its diplomat was implicated in planning an alleged bomb attack.

“This week there was an example of Iran’s boundless hypocrisy and brazen gall,” Netanyahu said, speaking at the Underground Prisoners Museum in Acre. “This week the president of Iran met with leaders in Europe in order to try and overcome President Trump’s sanctions regime – and I tell you that this attempt will fail – even as Iran planned a terrorist attack on French soil in Europe.”

“It was no coincidence that this attack was thwarted,” the prime minister added cryptically, possibly hinting at an Israeli link to the foiled attack.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani looks on as he attends a press conference in Bern on July 3, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ruben Sprich)

In May, the prime minister said that Israel’s security services and intelligence services had prevented terrorist attacks in over 30 countries, and in January said that Israel has prevented hijacked airplanes from crashing into European cities.

On Tuesday, after the plot was uncovered, Netanyahu had urged European countries to call off planned talks with Iran over preserving the nuclear deal.

The prime minister on Wednesday called on Europe to stop funding Iran.

“Stop financing the terrorist regime that is financing terrorism against you on your soil,” he said. “Enough with the policy of appeasement and weakness regarding Iran.”

Netanyahu said Israel would continue to act to protect itself.

“Against those who threaten to destroy Israel we are taking strong action to ensure the future of Israel,” he said. “Even when we are the few against the many and when it is necessary to stand against the entire world we do this here, in our region; we do it in the international arena, we break down wall after wall, and sometimes it is necessary to break down walls of hypocrisy.”

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting, in Tehran, Iran, January 2, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

In a move staunchly backed by Israel, US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear agreement nearly two months ago and reinstated sanctions, to the ire of the other signatories — China, France, Germany, Britain and Russia — which along with the European Union have continued to back the accord.

The nuclear deal has been the cornerstone of Rouhani’s policy of greater openness with the West, and the US departure has seen him severely criticized by ultra-conservatives at home.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has demanded Europe provide a number of economic guarantees in order for Tehran to continue its commitment.

Increasing the pressure on Iran’s European partners, he ordered preparations be made to quickly restart nuclear activities in case talks collapse.

AFP contributed to this report.

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