Netanyahu: Iran’s New President Is Just ‘A Clerk’ For Ayatollah

By James Beattie | October 9, 2013 | 4:51 PM EDT


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AP photo)

( -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as “a clerk” for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, adding during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Rouhani’s moderate tone was nothing but “sugar talk."

“Look at the tweets. He's 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're executing people by the -- by the hundreds, jailing them by the thousands, any dissident.  I mean, that's double talk and sugar talk." Netanyahu told host Bob Schieffer Sunday.

“But the important thing is it's part of a strategy. Iran -- Iran's leader, the real leader, is not Rouhani.  Rouhani is a servant of the regime. He's a clerk.

"The real leader of Iran who heads this cult that controls Iran, that controls with an iron fist the Iranian people, is the Ayatollah Khomeini. He's the so-called Supreme Leader, in this case aptly named. And he wants nuclear weapons. This is what they're building these underground bunkers for, and the ICBMs for, and the heavy water reactor for. That's what they want."

That was not the message Rouhani brought during his recent visit to the United Nations when he tweeted: "I invite govts, civil organizations to form global coalition for formation of #peace. World against Violence & Extremism. #UNGA#WAVE."

He also tweeted: "No nations should possess nuclear weapons as there are no right hands for these wrong weapons #UNGA #Live."

Iran has been blocking social networking sites like Twitter since the disputed 2009 presidential election. Restrictions were lifted briefly last month due to an apparent “technical glitch,” but Minister of Communications Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted on Iranian State TV saying that the ban will remain in effect.

Rouhani served as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council under former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who was also portrayed as a reformer who was committed to fighting anti-Western extremists.  However, the new president’s past remarks have not always struck such a conciliatory tone towards the West, leading observers like Netanyahu  to question whether he is really charting a new course for Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressing the United Nations on Sept. 24, 2013 (AP photo)

Unlike his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who told the United Nations that “Satan” inspired President Bush,  Rouhani took a more moderate stance during his first address to the world body last month, reassuring them that “peace is within reach.”

“We should accept and be able to open a new horizon in which peace will prevail over war, tolerance over violence, progress over bloodletting, justice over discrimination, prosperity over poverty, and freedom over despotism.”  he said.

However, during his recent presidential campaign, Rouhani boasted of his accomplishments as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005.

A video of an interview he did with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network (IRIBTV) shows him responding  to a question by Hassan Abedini about the supposed halt in Iran’s nuclear program under the 2003 Tehran Declaration.

“We finalized the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF). Do you know when [the] UCF was inaugurated, Mr. Abedini?  Read our history more carefully. The Tehran negotiations started in October 2003. Do you know when the first phase of the UCF was inaugurated? April of 2004. Do you know when the next phase was inaugurated?  Autumn of 2004. Do you know when it was completed?  April of 2005. What about heavy water?  Do you know when heavy water was developed? Summer of 2004. Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter of 2004. Do you know when our centrifuges reached 3000?  Winter of 2004.

"We halted the nuclear program?  We were the ones to complete it. “