Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu had direct words at his government’s weekly cabinet meeting Sunday for those who have hailed the outcome of Iran’s recent elections as a step towards moderation and an opportunity for diplomatic progress in international efforts to halt the country’s nuclear ambitions.
“Regarding the results of the elections in Iran, let us not delude ourselves,” he said, adding that “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.”
The Prime Minister was responding to the recent election of Hasan Rowhani as Iran’s new President, a cleric who has been hailed as a ‘relative moderate.’ Netanyahu pointed out that all of the candidates in Iran’s election were pre-vetted and approved by Iran’s radical supreme leader and shared the Ayatollah’s views.
“It must be remembered that the Iranian ruler, at the outset, disqualified candidates who did not fit his extremist outlook and from among those whose candidacies he allowed was elected the candidate who was seen as less identified with the regime,” he said.
Quoting the new Iranian leader Netanayhu added that he “still defines the State of Israel as ‘the great Zionist Satan.’”
The Prime Minister also pointed out that despite appearances Iran’s new President would not be calling the shots and that Iranian policy is directed by the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“In any case, the ruler of Iran is the Supreme Leader, not the president, and it is he who determines nuclear policy. The more the pressure on Iran increases, the greater is the chance of stopping the Iranian nuclear program, which remains the greatest threat to world peace. Fifteen years ago, the election of another president, also considered a moderate by the West, led to no change in these aggressive policies,” he said.
Netanyahu also reiterated his opinion on how Iran’s nuclear belligerence can be stunted by the international community, citing the only historical instance in which Iran actually suspended its nuclear program.
“Over the last twenty years, the only thing that has led to a temporary freeze in the Iranian nuclear program was Iran’s concern over aggressive policy against it in 2003,” he declared.
“Iran will be judged by its actions. If it continues to insist on developing its nuclear program, the answer needs to be very clear – stopping the nuclear program by any means,” Netanyahu concluded, reiterating his oft repeated promise to ensure that Iran will not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.