WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said that the demand from Iran
to halt its uranium enrichment is not his condition, but one set by the United Nations Security Council.
In an interview with the Washington Post, he said: "They’re minimal demands — that Iran remove all enriched nuclear material, that they stop all enrichment and that they shut down the illicit nuclear facility in Qom.
I think they should be held to this. It’s an acid test of whether they are serious. We shouldn’t put style over substance."
In the interview, Netanyahu sought to play down excitement over the election of Hassan Rohani
as Iran's president.
"The elections reflect a deep dissatisfaction of the Iranian people with its regime. Unfortunately, this result doesn’t have the power to change Iran’s nuclear ambitions. These are determined not by the elected president but by the so-called supreme leader, (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei.
"He remains committed to pursuing the path of arming Iran with nuclear weapons, and I’m afraid the elections are not going to change that. "
The prime minister explained that Rohani had been vetted by Khamenei.
"They eliminated hundreds of candidates and left seven. Then they eliminated (former president Ali Akbar Hashemi) Rafsanjani and Mashaei. They left Rohani. Rohani used to be the national security adviser of Iran and the former nuclear negotiator. He’s the author of a doctrine — I call this doctrine 'talk and enrich.'
"He wrote the book on it. The book was (about) his experiences in negotiations. He himself said that by calming the international community, Iran is able to steadily move forward with its nuclear weapons program. "
He further added, "We can’t let the Iranian regime play this game. They play for time. They continue to enrich. They broaden the base of their nuclear program. What Iran is seeking is not one or two bombs but 200 bombs. They’re building ICBMs parallel to developing their nuclear weapons program.
Addressing the US, he said, "The ICBMs are not intended for us; they’re intended for you. Within six to eight years, they intend to be able to reach the continental United States.
"To have a regime like this — that is, a rogue regime — have a nuclear arsenal with their messianic, apocalyptic ambitions is to imperil the entire world. It is to put the peace of the world in great jeopardy."
Asked whether he believes Obama won't accept a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu replied "I believe that’s his goal" but added, "I think that we’re all (being) tested, all of us. And the jury is out on all of us, on whether we muster the resolve to prevent this from happening. "
He called to step up sanctions on Iran but admitted that they "haven’t produced yet the change we need to see."
Addressing prospects of a renewed peace process with the Palestinians, he said that
"I want a state for the Jewish people alongside a state for the Palestinian people. At the same time, I don’t want an Iranian state next to our borders that would hurl thousands of rockets at our cities.
"It’s the balance between effecting a separation between the Israelis and Palestinians and assuring that the Palestinian state does not become an Iranian outpost. This is why I support Secretary Kerry’s effort (to restart direct negotiations)."
Asked about the situation in Syria, the prime minister he could not predict the outcomes of the civil war and warned that Israel
will do whatever is necessary to defend itself against terrorists and other threats from Syria
and from Hezbollah
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