The Independent reports: The Israeli government greeted the election of Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, with a mixture of scepticism and cynicism today, as senior politicians said that the threat posed by Tehran’s nuclear programme had not diminished.
Speaking before Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made Iran his priority since being returned to office in January, warned that the election was unlikely to bring any change.
“Regarding the results of the elections in Iran let us not delude ourselves,” he said. “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear [programme]. It must be remembered that the Iranian ruler, at the outset, disqualified candidates who did not fit his extremist outlook and from among those whose candidacies he allowed was elected the candidate who was seen as less identified with the regime, who still defines the State of Israel as ‘the great Zionist Satan’.”
The minister with responsibility for Iranian issues, the hawkish Yuval Steinitz, who has in the past called on Western governments to present the Islamic Republic with a “credible military threat,” echoed Mr Netanyahu’s statement, saying that despite the departure of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the real power in Iran – Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – would continue to dictate foreign policy.
“Kudos to the Iranian people for electing a moderate statesman, but I doubt the real authority Khamenei will change his tune on military and nuclear affairs without being strongly motivated to do so by increased international economic sanctions,” he told Israeli Army Radio. [Continue reading…]