Hassan Rouhani, regarded as a moderate, has just taken over as Iran’s president. However, Netanyahu, touring proposed military bases in Israel’s Negev Desert Wednesday, said Rouhani “is trying to present a new image to the West, but advances in [Iran’s] nuclear program continue.”
“The truth is that the only thing in the last 20 years that has helped stop Iran’s nuclear program were pressures and the explicit threats of military action,” the Israeli leader said.
Rouhani, formerly Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said Tuesday Iran was prepared to enter serious talks over its nuclear program with the West but would not respond to threats, and criticized Israel’s influence in Washington without specifically mentioning Israel.
“The war-mongering lobby in the U.S. is opposed to constructive [talks] and only protects the interests of the foreign regime, and often receives orders from that regime,” he said at a news conference.
The change in Iran’s leadership is a major source of concern for Israel, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday, noting Israel has long threatened to take military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, but Netanyahu’s rhetoric was toned down over the last six months.
Rouhani’s election has invigorated Israel’s interest in rallying international focus on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the newspaper said.