Netanyahu warns UN that Iran charm ‘a ruse and a ploy’
Israel speech sounds conflicting note after week of diplomacy
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday. Photograph: Reuters.
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu launched a sustained attack on the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani yesterday, deriding his recent charm offensive with western leaders as a “ruse and a ploy” that was designed to fool the international community into dropping its guard against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.
At the end of a week of intense diplomacy at the 2013 UN general assembly in New York, in which the overriding focus has been the growing hope of meaningful negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme, Mr Netanyahu sounded a starkly conflicting note in his address to the UN general assembly.
He pounded the Iranian regime and its newly elected president, accusing them of sponsoring terrorism and lying repeatedly over their nuclear weapons ambitions, and exhorting the rest of the world not to be hoodwinked into lifting sanctions on Tehran.
‘Smiling never hurts’
Mr Rouhani’s strategy, he said, was to “smile a lot because smiling never hurts; pay lip-service to peace, democracy and tolerance; offer meaningless concessions in exchange for lifting sanctions; ensure Iran retains sufficient nuclear material and infrastructure to race to the bomb at a time that it chooses.”
He went on: “You know why Rouhani thinks he can get away with this? This is a ruse, a ploy. Because he’s gotten away with it before. He fooled the world once, now he thinks he can fool it again.”
Israel has been watching the signs of improving relations between Iran and the US with growing alarm. Signs of a changing direction were capped by the 15-minute historic phone conversation between presidents Barack Obama and Mr Rouhani last week.
A year ago, Mr Netanyahu stood at the same podium at the UN general assembly and presented a cartoon-like representation of an Iranian nuclear bomb, with a red line drawn near its peak. At that time, talk of a possible unilateral Israeli air strike on Iran was a dominant subject of diplomatic conversation.
Now Israel is in danger of being sidelined by the rapidly moving sense of detente between the new Iranian government, the US and other western countries.
Mr Netanyahu used his UN address to try and regain some of the initiative and disabuse his fellow leaders of what he considers their mistaken trust in Iran’s intentions.
– (Guardian service)