The Middle East seems to give no respite to the international community. Just days after the world celebrated the Obama-Rouhani telephone call, as what could be the beginning of a new era in Middle East geopolitics, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (GA) platform to take tight-fisted potshots at the new Iranian president. His move was calculated and his effort obvious. Attempting to shred though the conciliatory approach of the Iranian president at the General Assembly last week, the Israeli Prime Minister focused on Iran for more than 30 minutes in his speech. Whereas, on the root cause of the Middle-East conflict, the Palestinian issue, he made a few remarks in conclusion, saying that he is ready to seek an historic compromise with them. Iran, meanwhile, has rejected the Israeli statement and said its centuries-old policy of non-aggression must not be interpreted as its inability to defend itself.
Arguing that Iran is not on the path of change, Mr Netanyahu called President Hassan Rouhani as a "loyal servant" of the Islamic hardline regime, no different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Rouhani doesn't sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing; Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing. A wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community," said Mr Netanyahu.
The Israeli prime minister warned that the only way diplomacy will stop Iran's "feverish efforts" to acquire nuclear weapons is to keep up international pressure through "tough" sanctions to ensure that the country fully dismantles its weapons programme and is prevented from having one in the future.
Referring to his speech to the Assembly's 2012 General Debate, he said, "Last year when I spoke here at the UN I drew a red line. Now, Iran has been very careful not to cross that line but Iran is positioning itself to race across that line in the future at a time of its choosing."
"Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it," he said.
He termed the recent pledges from Iran's new president to cooperate with the international community on the issue are "a ruse."
Mr Netanyahu wondered why a country with vast natural energy reserves would invest billions in developing nuclear energy; or why a country intent on merely civilian nuclear programmes would continue to defy multiple Security Council resolutions and incur the tremendous cost of crippling sanctions on its economy.
"Why would they do all this? The answer is simple. Iran is not building a peaceful nuclear programme; Iran is developing nuclear weapons," he declared.
He warned that "a nuclear-armed Iran" would have a choke-hold on the world's energy supplies and would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East.
"It would make the spectre of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger," the Israeli prime minister said.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, the Israeli prime minister said Iran faces one big problem. A problem that he summed up in one word: sanctions.
Mr Netanyahu reiterated his long-held position that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat.
And thanks to the efforts of many countries, that policy today is bearing fruit, he said, noting that, under the leadership of the United States, "tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy."
"Lift the sanctions only when Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons programme," he said, noting that with the measures in place, Iran's oil revenues have fallen and its currency has plummeted. "So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed," he said, adding:
"The international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran's nuclear weapons programme peacefully, don't let up the pressure."
As to whether diplomacy could be used to stop the "threat" posed by Iran, he said the only diplomatic solution that would work "is one that fully dismantles Iran's nuclear weapons programme and prevents it from having one in the future."
He added that U.S. President Barack Obama has rightly said that Iran's conciliatory words must be matched by transparent, verifiable and meaningful action.
Meanwhile, Iran was quick to reject Mr Netanyahu's remarks.
"He [Netanyahu] should seriously avoid miscalculation about Iran. Iran's centuries-old policy of non-aggression must not be interpreted as its inability to defend itselfc.... Therefore, the Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran, let alone planning for that," said Iranian envoy to the UN Khodadad Seifi.
Ridiculing double standard of nuclear weapons, the Iranian envoy also urged Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without delay, saying it is the only country in the region that is not a member.
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