JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said new Iranian President Hassan Rohani’s call for serious negotiations over his country’s nuclear program is a ploy to continue enriching uranium.
On Wednesday, a day after Rohani called for direct talks with the United States over his country’s nuclear program, Netanyahu said the Iranian leader knows how to “exploit” the optimism surrounding his recent election.
“Of course he wants more talks. He wants to talk and talk and talk,” Netanyahu said at a meeting with pro-Israel activists headed by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). “And while everybody is busy talking to him, he’ll be busy enriching uranium. The centrifuges will keep on spinning.”
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, while the West believes it is working toward nuclear weapons.
Rohani at his first news conference as president of Iran said his country is “very seriously determined to solve the nuclear issue.
“It will defend its people’s rights and at the same time will remove the concerns of the other party,” he said.
Rohani called for a “practical response” from the United States and added, “If we feel that the Americans are truly serious about resolving problems, Iran is serious in its will to resolve problems and dismiss worries.”
While not mentioning Israel specifically during the news conference, Rohani referred to the interests of “one foreign country” that have been imposed on the U.S. Congress, and to “warmongering pressure groups” lobbying the Obama administration on behalf of one country.
Pro-Israel organizations have thanked Congress and Obama for recent increases in economic sanctions on Iran as long as it continues to enrich uranium.