Fox News on September 29, 2013, reported on Netanyahu’s message to Obama during the visit to the United States starting September 30. Just days after the first conversation between the leaders of the U.S. and Iran in 34 years was hailed as a “breakthrough” in relations between the two countries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking an unpopular message to the White House and the United Nations: Don’t be fooled by Tehran’s “sweet talk.” Excerpts below:
Netanyahu, who contends Iran is using conciliatory gestures as a smoke screen to conceal an unabated march toward a nuclear bomb, will meet with President Obama to deliver strong words of caution to the U.S.
“I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles,” Netanyahu said before boarding his flight to the U.S. “Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of the state of Israel.”
Netanyahu also plans to offer up fresh intelligence in his attempt to persuade the U.S. to maintain tough economic sanctions and not allow the Islamic republic to develop a bomb or even move closer to becoming a nuclear threshold state.
Israeli leaders watched with great dismay what they derisively call the “smiley campaign” by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, last week. Rouhani delivered a conciliatory speech at the United Nations in which he repeated Iran’s official position that it has no intention of building a nuclear weapon and declared his readiness for new negotiations with the West.
For Netanyahu, such sentiments are nothing short of a nightmare.
For years, he has warned that Iran is steadily marching toward development of nuclear weapons, an assessment that is widely shared by the West because of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium and its run-ins with international nuclear inspectors.
The Israeli prime minister contends Rouhani’s outreach is a ploy to ease international sanctions and buy time.
Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an unacceptable threat, given repeated Iranian assertions that the Jewish state should not exist. Israel has a long list of other grievances against Iran, citing its support for hostile Arab militant groups, its development of long-range missiles and alleged Iranian involvement in attacks on Israeli targets in Europe and Asia.
On September 29, Israel announced the arrest of a Belgian-Iranian businessman on espionage charges.
Netanyahu says the new Iranian leader must be judged on his actions, not his words. In the meantime, he says sanctions and other international pressure, including the threat of military action, must be increased. He has likened Iran to North Korea, which used the guise of international negotiations to secretly develop a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu appears to enjoy widespread domestic support for his tough approach. Israel’s Channel 10 TV released the results of a poll Sunday night showing that 78 percent of respondents don’t believe Iran wants to resolve the nuclear problem. Fifty-nine percent said they do not think the U.S. will reach an agreement with Iran, while just 29 percent said they expect a resolution.
Obama will try to convince Netanyahu that the U.S. won’t consider lifting sanctions until Iran takes concrete actions to show it is serious about a verifiable, transparent agreement, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
Obama will also seek to assure his Israeli counterpart that if the U.S. reaches a deal with Iran, it will ultimately advance Israel’s security interests by resolving the nuclear issue without the need for military intervention.
Obama’s bottom line remains that Iran can’t be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, officials said.
Additionally, several U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have urged Obama to keep the pressure of sanctions on Iran and stand firm by the vow to prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and several other senators penned a letter to Obama on casting doubts on the intentions of Iran’s new leader.
Israel, though, wants the U.S. to establish clear “red lines” to prevent Iran from pressing forward with its nuclear program and moving toward threshold status — having the capability to build a nuclear weapon without actually possessing one. That scenario is unacceptable to Israel.
Netanyahu has laid out four demands: that Iran stop enriching uranium; that its stockpiles of enriched uranium be removed from the country; that a fortified underground enrichment facility be closed; and that Iran not make plutonium, another possible path toward nuclear weapons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report