Netanyahu Warns West: Don't Be Deluded Into Easing Nuclear Pressure on Iran

WATCH: Israel premier says international community should not give in to 'wishful thinking' following election of moderate Hassan Rowhani, adds that it is Khamenei, not the president, who sets nuclear policy.

Barak Ravid
Reuters
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Barak Ravid
Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the West on Sunday not to let up pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions after the election of a new president widely seen as a moderate.

"We won’t fool ourselves, [and] the international community shouldn’t be tempted into wishful thinking and weaken the pressure on Iran regarding their nuclear program,” Netanyahu said of the election results.

"We should recall that in the first place the Iranian ruler disqualified candidates who didn't suit his extremist views, and of those whose candidacy was permitted, someone who is seen as less identified with the regime was elected," Netanyahu said. "This is still someone who called Israel 'the Great Satan.' In any case, the Iranian ruler who is called the 'supreme leader' is the one who determines Iran's nuclear policy."

"The greater the pressure on Iran the greater the chances of stopping the Iranian nuclear program, which remains the greatest threat to world peace," Netanyahu added.

Netanyahu also noted that the election of former Iranian President Ali Khatami, considered a moderate by the West, 15 years ago did not lead to a change in Iranian policy.

"The only thing that led to a freeze in the Iranian nuclear program in the past 20 years was Iran's of a military action against it in 2003," said Netanyahu. "Iran will be tested by its deeds: If it continues with its nuclear program it must be stopped by any means possible."

Netanyahu was referring to reactions in the U.S. administration and the European Union to the election of Hassan Rowhani to the Iranian presidency. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Saturday that the United States respects the choice of the Iranian people and hopes that the new government will make responsible decisions for the sake of a better future.

The White House announcement said that the United States is ready to conduct a direct dialogue with Iran on the nuclear program. Theelection “took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly,” Carney said in a statement. He added that despite those obstacles, “the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future.”

EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton said that she is committed to working with the new Iranian leadership in order to solve the issue of the nuclear program through diplomatic means. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Rowhani's election victory demonstrates that the Iranian people voted for reforms and a constructive foreign policy.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that his country is willing to work with the new presidentin order to solve the nuclear issue. The British Foreign Office said: "We call on him to use the opportunity to set Iran on a different course for the future."

Iran's president-elect, Hasan Rohani, standing in front of a portrait of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini.Credit: AP

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