JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, moved quickly to block even tentative steps by Iran and the United States to ease tensions and move toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis, signaling what is likely to be a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal.
Netanyahu’s office dismissed as “media spin” a flurry of statements by Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, about the goals of his nation’s nuclear program and his willingness to engage in diplomacy regarding it. His remarks were made amid news that President Obama had reached out to Rouhani with a private letter, and renewed discussion in Washington of talks to lift sanctions against Iran.
“There is no need to be fooled by the words,” said a lengthy statement issued late Thursday in response to Rouhani’s interview this week with NBC News. “The test is not in what Rouhani says, but in the deeds of the Iranian regime, which continues to advance its nuclear program with vigor while Rouhani is being interviewed.”
Netanyahu, who has described Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” has stepped up his long-standing campaign against Iranian nuclear development in recent days, and plans to make it the focus of his Sept. 30 meeting with Obama in Washington and his upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly.