Netanyahu: World wants free Iran, too soon to predict change
PM says he won't second-guess Obama's stance on Iran protests; Peres: Tehran regime must disappear.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he would not second-guess U.S. President Barack Obama's approach on Iran, following the Tehran government's political crackdown.
In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, Netanyahu said that the world was sympathetic to the Iranians protesting the recent contested election, but added it was unclear whether the unrest would spur change in Tehran's policies.
"I have no doubt everybody in the world is sympathetic to the Iranians' desire for freedom," Netanyahu said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked about the street demonstrations that have erupted in Iran since the disputed June 12 election.
Obama has been criticized by Republicans and others for stepping up more inin defense of Iranians protesting the outcome of the presidential election.
Netanyahu told NBC that he knows Obama wants the Iranian people to be free, adding that free people everywhere were amazed by the willingness of the Iranian people to stand up for their rights.
"I think it's too early to say what will transpire in Iran and on the international stage," said Netanyahu, who spoke from Israel. He reiterated Israel's position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
Israel, believed by experts to possess the only atomic arsenal in the Middle East, sees Iran's nuclear development as a threat, due in part to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel to be destroyed.
Israeli leaders have avoided taking sides publicly over the anti-government demonstrations in Iran, which were triggered by official results showing Ahmadinejad winning re-election by a wide margin over his main challenger.
President Shimon Peres earlier Sunday lauded post-election protests in Iran and said he hoped the Islamic Republic's government would disappear.
"Let the young people raise their voice of freedom for a positive policy. Let the Iranian women, who are a very courageous group of people, to voice their thirst for equality, for freedom," Peres said in English in a speech to visiting Jewish fundraisers.
"I really don't know what will disappear first, their enriched uranium, or their poor government," said Peres, whose post is largely ceremonial. "Hopefully, the poor government will disappear."
Israel sees Iran's nuclear development as a threat, due in part to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel to be destroyed.
Israeli leaders have avoided taking sides publicly over the protests that erupted in Iran after the disputed June 12 presidential election, focusing instead on what they see as the dangers posed by Tehran's nuclear programme.
The head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, Meir Dagan, said on Tuesday that Iran may obtain the technology to build an atomic weapon by 2014. Iran says its nuclear project is intended solely to produce electricity.