Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan cautioned Friday morning against allowing the Iranian president's overtures to distract the international community from Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Echoing the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, Erdan told Army Radio that, "I'm afraid that centrifuges spin out of sight, while what are seen is Rohani's soft face and the pretty words with which he addresses the American people."
Also speaking to Israel Radio on Friday, Erdan said Netanyahu's campaign against Iran in recent years led the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on Iran, proving that diplomacy can work.
In his UN General Assembly speech scheduled for Tuesday next week, Netanyahu will present intelligence that the world is not aware of, Erdan said, in contrast to the picture presented by Hassan Rohani in New York.
A diplomatic solution is also Israel's preferred alternative, Erdan said, but Netanyahu will emphasize in his speech that Tehran's actions, not words will decide. The minister added that Israel, as the main nation threatened by Iran, must retain the military option.
In his speech Tuesday, Rohani declared that Iran is interested in resolving the nuclear dispute with the West peacefully, and reiterated his pledge not to develop nuclear arms.
Responding to the speech, Netanyahu said that Rohani’s speech was cynical and hypocritical, and called Iran's gestures a "smoke sceen." Earlier, the prime minister ordered the Israeli delegation to boycott Rohani’s speech.
In an interview aired on Tuesday night, Rohani classified the Holocaust as a “reprehensible crime against humanity,” but fell short of explicitly disavowing the outright Holocaust-denial of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Speaking hours ahead of a planned meeting between Iran and major powers on Thursday, Rohani told the UNGA that use of nuclear weapons is a "crime against humanity" and called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In a rare direct reference, Rohani said that "Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join thereto without any further delay."
Ahead of Rohani's speech on Tuesday, Israeli Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz warned that the world must not let up pressure on Iran's nuclear program simply because Rohani has shifted the Islamic Republic's rhetoric toward the West.
"We’re seeing an attack of smiles, moderation and pleasantry from the new president, Rohani," Steinitz, who is responsible for Israel's international relations, told Army Radio. "As of now, we’re not seeing any change in substance."
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