Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the United States and its Western allies to exert more pressure on Iran over its nuclear energy program.
Netanyahu made the call while addressing a delegation of visiting US congressmen led by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer on Tuesday. The Israeli prime minister was responding to remarks by new Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who had rejected pressure tactics on Iran at a press conference in Tehran earlier in the day. "Iran's president said that pressure won't work. Not true… the only thing that will work now is increased pressure,” Netanyahu said. Rohani called for “serious talks with foreign parties” on West’s dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program, but warned that negotiations would not work under pressure. The Iranian president, who took office on August 4, also said that the Islamic Republic is closely monitoring all measures taken by the US and will respond properly to Washington’s “practical and constructive” moves. He called on Washington to hear the Iranian nation’s message, saying, “If we see that the US is serious in resolving the problems, we will also be serious.” Rohani also voiced readiness to hold talks with any country within the framework of the Islamic Republic’s national interests. The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program and have used the unfounded accusation as a pretext to impose illegal sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production. In its latest measure against Iran, the US House of Representatives on July 31 approved a bill of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports and other economic sectors including mining and automobile industries. The bill has yet to be approved in the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law. The Israeli regime, which is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, has even threatened Tehran with a military strike. The regime reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads, but under its policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity, it has never denied nor confirmed its possession of the weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, Tel Aviv has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities and continues to defy international calls to join the NPT.