Steinitz: Rouhani Speech Offers Zero New Steps
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations as offering nothing new.
Steinitz, the head of the Israeli delegation that boycotted Rouhani’s UN General Assembly address, said the new Iranian president tried "to cheat the world, and unfortunately many people are willing to be cheated."
"We heard a lot of new rhetoric but zero new steps or even zero new commitments to meet the UN Security Council resolutions," Steinitz was quoted by AFP as having told reporters.
"We didn't hear ... Rouhani regret or withdraw from previous denial of the Holocaust by previous Iranian leaders," he added.
"The greater the economic and military pressure on Iran, the greater the chances of diplomacy to succeed," Steinitz said.
"If this will be crystal clear to the Iranians that they have only one choice -- between saving their economy and giving up the nuclear project, or saving the nuclear project and destroying their economy and maybe also suffering from a military attack -- they might make the right decision," he stated.
In his speech earlier, Rouhani said that his country posed no threat and was not pursuing nuclear weapons.
He stood by Iran's right to a civilian nuclear program and urged U.S. President Barack Obama to ignore "war-mongering pressure groups" and make a deal.
Rouhani said his country is willing to hold time-bound talks on its nuclear program but also called on the world to recognize his country’s right to enrich uranium and insisted that Iran’s nuclear program is a peaceful one.
The Iranian president largely stayed away from the strident anti-Israel rhetoric of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who triggered outrage by questioning the Holocaust.
He did, however, denounce the “occupation of the Palestinian people”, claiming that they suffer from “structural violence.”
Responding to Rouhani’s speech, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said it was “cynical and full of hypocrisy.”
Netanyahu said that the speech reflects the Iranian plan, namely to "talk and buy time in order to promote the ability of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.”