Making note of Israel’s existing, though undeclared, arsenal of nuclear weapons and pushing back against the steady stream of vitriol aimed at Iran amid ongoing negotiations over its civilian nuclear program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday described the people of the United States and across the world as “too intelligent” to be taken by the “war-mongering” contained in remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his high-profile visit to Washington, D.C. this week.
Speaking from Tehran, Rouhani indicated ongoing optimism following the latest round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the U.S., U.K., China, Russia, France, and Germany) which concluded in Switzerland on Wednesday. “The world is happy with the progress in the negotiations,” he said.
Though no agreement was finalized during the three-day summit in the Swiss town of Montreux, all sides expressed that progress was made despite the gaps between the parties that remain.
In his remarks, however, Rouhani continued by characterizing the Israeli government as an “aggressive and occupier regime” which stands alone in its opposition to reaching a peaceful settlement. Israel is angry with the talks, he said, “because it sees its existence tied with war and occupation.”
But, he said, “People of the world and America are too intelligent to take advice from such a war-mongering regime … which has pursued, produced and stockpiled a large number of atomic bombs in violation of international laws and away from the eyes of international inspectors.”
In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, echoed some of Rouhani’s sentiments as he repeated Iran has no ambitions or plans to shift its civilian nuclear program to one geared towards weaponization. “Despite extensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, no evidence has ever been presented to contradict the clear commitment by Iran’s leaders that they would under no circumstances engage in manufacturing, stockpiling and using nuclear weapons,” Khoshroo wrote. “Yet, in his speech this week, Mr. Netanyahu claimed the agency had determined that Iran had ‘a military nuclear program.’ This is a gross distortion of the agency’s position.”
Writing for The Progressive magazine, professor of politics and Middle Eastern studies Stephen Zunes reflected on Netanyahu’s fresh arguments to U.S. lawmakers this week by pointing out how disconnected from reality—especially when it comes to the ongoing P5+1 talks—they truly were. Though he acknowledged that some Democrats did boycott Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday, he points out the “vast majority were in attendance” and the powerful pro-Israeli lobby continues to have significant influence in Congress were several pieces of legislation are now underway to sabotage hopes for a lasting deal with Iran. According to Zunes:
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Zunes concluded, “What is disturbing is that so many in Congress still believe him.”