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Monday, September 29, 2014

Netanyahu: Iran poses greater threat than IS

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to shift the spotlight away from the Islamic State militant group and back to Iran, warning the United Nations that a nuclear-armed Tehran would pose a far greater threat than "militant Islamists on pickup trucks."

Islamic State's seizure of large swaths of Syria and Iraq and its killings of civilians and soldiers have dominated discussions during five days of speeches at the United Nations General Assembly podium and on the sidelines.

But Netanyahu described Iran, Islamic State and the militant group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip as part of a single team, comparing them all to Germany's Nazis, who killed six million Jews in World War Two.

"The Nazis believed in a master race, the militant Islamists believe in a master faith," Netanyahu said in his speech at the annual gathering of the 193-nation assembly in New York. "They just disagree who among them will be the master of the master faith."

"Make no mistake, ISIS (Islamic State) must be defeated," Netanyahu added. "But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."

"It's one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles, it's another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction," Netanyahu said.

Iran rejects allegations by Western powers and their allies that it is developing the capability to produce atomic weapons and wants economic sanctions lifted as part of any nuclear deal with six countries negotiating with Tehran.

By describing Iran, Islamic State and Hamas as part of the same team, Netanyahu appeared to play on doubts among US lawmakers about the wisdom of President Barack Obama's decision to engage with Tehran after the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, a soft-spoken pragmatist, to resolve the 12-year-old nuclear standoff between the Iran and the West.

"You know, to say that Iran doesn't practice terrorism, is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees," he said.

Asked if Washington agreed with Netanyahu that Iran, Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah are all part of a joint Muslim effort to seize control of the world, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "We would not agree with that characterization, no."

These issues will undoubtedly come up during Obama's meeting with Netanyahu in Washington on Wednesday.

"Iran's nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled," Netanyahu said. He added that the goal of a charm offensive by Iran's "smooth talking president and foreign minister" was to get international sanctions lifted "and remove the obstacles to Iran's path to the bomb."

"The question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions. There is one place where that could soon happen - the Islamic State of Iran."

He twice referred to the "Islamic State of Iran," which would appear to be a deliberate play on the country's official name - the Islamic Republic of Iran - and Islamic State, which is often referred to as ISIL or ISIS.

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Tags:  Iran  Iraq  US  ISIS  Netanyahu  





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