Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may seem like he's making overtures to curb his country's nuclear program, but he's not the nation's real leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday, and his "message of peace" should be approached with caution.
"The real leader of Iran, who heads this cult that controls Iran, that controls with an iron fist the Iranian people, is the Ayatollah Khamenei," Netanyahu told CBS "Face the Nation"
host Bob Schieffer Sunday. "He's the so-called supreme leader, in this case, aptly named. And he wants nuclear weapons."
Rouhani, Netanyahu accused, is merely "a servant of the regime; he's a clerk."
Further, the Israeli leader said Rouhani may be sending out positive messages of peace and about Iran's democracy, but he doesn't buy it.
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"Look at the Tweets," said Netanyahu said, referring to Rouhani's Twitter account.
"[Rouhani is] Tweeting here, but he doesn't allow the Iranian people to Tweet over there in Iran. He's saying all these nice things about Iranian democracy. They are executing people by the hundreds, jailing them by the thousands, any dissident. I mean, that's double talk and sugar talk."
And the leader's history-making telephone chat with President Barack Obama is nothing but "part of a strategy," the Israeli prime minister said.
The phone call marked the end of a three-decades-long silence between the leaders of the United States and Iran, and Obama has said he won't take military options off the table to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, putting him and Netanyahu
on the same side of the table.
But Netanyahu said he is worried that Iran will dupe the United States into easing its economic sanctions and allow the Middle Eastern country to become a nuclear power.
"A nuclear-armed Iran would take the preeminent terrorist regime of our time, one that participates in the mass murder of men, women, and children in Damascus and in the cities of Syria, one that sends terrorists to 25 cities and five continents in the last three years alone, and one that calls for the annihilation of Israel, and one that is developing ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, to reach the United States," Netanyahu said.
He pointed out that Rouhani wrote a book when he was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator that said the nation was able to complete a crucial part of its nuclear weapons program "by creating a calm environment."
As a result, Netanyahu said, "he basically does a fool me once, fool me twice thing. Are we going to be fooled twice?"
Israel is open to negotiations, but he said he'll remain skeptical until Iran agrees to completely dismantle its nuclear capabilities, but Khamenei has only agreed to make some tactical concessions by giving up some nuclear material, but will still maintain low-enriched uranium and the machines to make it.
"No way," Netanyahu said. We're not gullible. We're not fools."
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