JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Thursday a U.S. television interview in which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pledged that Tehran would never develop nuclear weapons was an Iranian attempt to deceive the world.
“One must not be fooled by the Iranian president’s fraudulent words,” said a statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
“The Iranians are spinning in the media so that the centrifuges can keep on spinning,” it said, referring to Iranian uranium enrichment that Israel believes is aimed at developing nuclear weapons
Iran says its nuclear work is entirely peaceful and calls Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal the bigger danger to the region.
In an interview with NBC, Rouhani said Iran would never develop nuclear weapons and that he had “complete authority” to negotiate a nuclear deal with the United States and other Western powers.
The Israeli statement said Iran was out to achieve a deal in which it would agree to give up an “inconsequential” part of its nuclear programme while moving ahead with other activities that would enable it to build a bomb quickly from the moment it decides to do so.
The statement repeated Israel’s demands of Iran: a complete halt to uranium enrichment, removal of enriched uranium from the country, dismantlement of the underground enrichment facility at Qom and an end to any efforts to use plutonium to produce a nuclear bomb.
Rouhani’s interview appeared to be the latest signal by the centrist cleric - that has included a recent letter exchange with U.S. President Barack Obama - aimed at improving relations between Iran and the West after years of hostility.
Both Israel and the United States have not ruled out military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran should sanctions and diplomacy fail to curb its atomic programme.
Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Robin Pomeroy