Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York.
The Associated Press
Iran insists its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only and that it does not seek a weapon.
Netanyahu asserted that Rouhani must have known about the murder of 85 people in a 1994 terror attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires and the killing of 19 American soldiers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 because he was head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989-2003.
The U.S. has also accused Iran of sponsoring acts of terrorism around the world throughout the 1990s, blaming Iran and its proxy Hezbollah for a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people, as well as the community center attack two years later. Some analysts linked Iran’s Quds Force to helping direct the 1996 bombings of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American military personnel.
Netanyahu said Rouhani condemned the “violent scourge” of terrorism. “Yet in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 countries on five continents,” he charged, without providing any evidence to back up the accusation.
Netanyahu said Rouhani launched a “charm offensive” because tough sanctions from the U.N., the U.S. and many others “have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy” and the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions lifted.
He also accused the Iranian president of masterminding his country’s strategy to advance the nuclear weapons program and said his goal was the same as his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“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,” Netanyahu said.
He said all Iranian presidents serve the same “unforgiving regime” where the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a dictator and the real power.
Netanyahu also accused Iran of lamenting the human tragedy in Syria, while at the same time directly participating in President Bashar Assad’s murder and massacre of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. He said Iran’s regime is propping up the Syrian regime that just used chemical weapons against its own people.
Netanyahu took apart Rouhani’s speech to the General Assembly last week, saying he wished he could believe the Iranian president’s words “but we must focus on Iran’s actions – and it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling.”
Netanyahu said Iran has not crossed the “red line” that he set at last year’s General Assembly, but claimed Rouhani has done nothing to stop the country’s uranium enrichment program or its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) “whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads.”
“And Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city (New York) in three or four years,” Netanyahu said.
He said Rouhani denounced attempts to change the regional balance in the Middle East through proxies.”Yet Iran is actively destabilizing Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain and many other Middle Eastern countries,” Netanyahu said.
He cited an attempt by Iranian agents to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in Washington two years ago, and the arrest of an Iranian agent three weeks ago trying to collect information “for possible attacks against the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.”
Israel’s Shin Bet security agency says Iran recruited the Belgian-Iranian national Ali Mansouri last year and sent him to Israel to spy. He was arrested on Sept. 11 at Israel’s international airport.
A lawyer for Mansouri said the allegations are baseless.
Israel announced the arrest on Sunday as Netanyahu left for the U.S. for talks on Iran. Israeli media have speculated that the timing of the announcement was politically motivated.
“I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things,” Netanyahu said, “and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rouhani’s soothing rhetoric.”