Netanyahu Speech: Iran Reacts

March 4, 2015
Iranian officials sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.S. Congress on March 3, in which he argued against a potential nuclear deal with Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Netanyahu of distorting reality and running a “popularity contest” in the United States. He also argued Netanyahu lacks the “moral authority” to make allegations against Iran. And Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham called the address a "deceitful show." The following are excerpted remarks from Iranian officials about Netanyahu's speech.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Khamenei's official Twitter account, though not mentioning Netanyahu's speech directly, released several tweets criticizing Israel during the prime minister's trip to Washington.
 
President Hassan Rouhani

“The only one who is angry and upset about the course of negotiations is an occupying regime that sees its survival in war and invasion,” referring to Israel.
 
“People in the world, as well as the Americans, are much more perceptive than to trust the words of advice from a regime that has a long reputation for causing conflict and crisis.” 
 
“The very same regime that has sought nuclear weapons contrary to international law and away from international observers; which has produced atomic bombs and by refusing to sign the NPT will not allow the IAEI to visit its nuclear facilities.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

"Americans and the people of the world are more intelligent than to listen to advice from an ever-warmongering regime."
 
"[Israel] claims to speak of peace and warns of future threats while it is the creator of the greatest danger for the region."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
"A malicious person reveals his true nature and says that if America does not stand with us, we will unilaterally act. His remarks are ludicrous and foolish. Israel is an illegitimate regime that has no geographical or strategic depth, and it because of its crimes it is disgusted in the Islamic world. This regime intends to make threats on our nation. We need strength, and the enemy should be aware of our power."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

 
 
The following are excerpts from an interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry.
 
Nuclear Allegations
 
“Mr. Netanyahu has been-- proclaiming, predicting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon with-- within two, three, four years, since 1992. He has been on the record time and again that Iran will build a nuclear weapon within two years-- since, as I said, 1992. In 2012, he went before the General Assembly and said, ‘Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year.’ It seems that he wants to stick to his one year-- forever. Iran is not about building nuclear weapon. We don't wanna build nuclear weapons. We don't believe that nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us.”
 
“We do not believe a bomb is in our interest. Whereas he does have a bomb. He does have two-- he has 200 nuclear weapons. He has stood against a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction. Israel is the single most important obstacle to the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the-- in the Middle East. Why nobody makes him accountable for the behavior, rather than for the allegations? He continues to create-- to make allegations against Iran. He's in no place to do that. He doesn't have the authority, the moral authority, to do that.”
 
Support for Extremists
 
“I wanna ask Mr. Netanyahu what was he doing visiting al-Nusra-- terrorists in Israeli hospitals? Why is he supporting el-Nusra? I'm not running a-- popularity contest in the United States. But he seems to be doing that. And at the same time, he's a bedfellow to the most dangerous terrorists who are fighting against all of us in the world.”
 
“It is strange that somebody has the audacity to charge Iran, which is the only country, which is-- has supported steadily the governments in the region against a terror network that has, unfortunately, been created in our region, has helped Iraq. We came to the assistance of the Iraqi government. We came to the assistance of the Kurdish people in Iraq when they were-- when the onslaught of-- of Daesh -- against Iraq started.”
 
Policies Towards Jews and Israel
 
“Well, it is unfortunate that Mr. Netanyahu now totally-- distorts realities of today. He even distorts his own-- scripture. If-- if you read the book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews. If you read-- the-- the Old Testament, you will see that it was an Iranian king who saved the Jews from Babylon.”
 
“It is truly, truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history: Once during that time of-- of a prime minister who was trying to kill the Jews, and the king saved the Jews, again during the time of Cyrus the Great, where he saved the Jews from Babylon, and during the-- Second World War, where Iran saved the Jews. ”
 
“We're talking about Mr. Netanyahu, who has-- butchered-- innocent children in Gaza. We are not talking about annihilation of Jews. We never have, we never will. Because if we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them, disproportionately to their number."
 
“We have said, and we will continue to say, that the [Israeli] regime is a threat to regional peace. This is the only regime with nuclear weapons. This is the only regime that has aggressed upon all of its neighbors, has-- gobbled territory of-- of its neighbor, is occupying people's territory, is violating human rights on a daily basis.”
 
Imad Mughniyah (former Hezbollah security chief)
 
ANN CURRY: “The prime minister said that he wished that someone would ask you why you laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyah. He said, who has spilled more blood, more American blood… than any other terrorist beside Osama bin Laden. Mughniyah was a Hezbollah-- commander. He is accused of the-- in-- bombings of the-- U.S. barracks, and also U.S. embassy bombings.”
 
JAVAD ZARIF: “The problem is, we're talking about a resistance to Israeli occupation, which-- was pushed out of Lebanon by a resistance movement. We're not talking about a group that came from all over the world to Syria or to Iraq to wreak havoc. We're talking about people defending their country, defending their territory against occupation. If you can go back, episodes that Mr. Netanyahu doesn't want the world to remember, Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, bombardments of Lebanese cities, occupation of southern Lebanon, atrocities that were committed in Lebanon amounting to war crimes, these are-- areas where the Lebanese resistance fought against. They fought in their own territory for the independence of their country, for liberation of their territory from Israeli occupation. They are considered heroes in the entire Middle East. And that is where the problem lies. By portraying images that have no base in-- in truth, no base in reality, they cannot change the history.”
– March 4, 2015 in an interview with NBC News
 
U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo
 
"In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless.
 
"The paradox of the situation is that a government [Israel] that has built a stockpile of nuclear weapons, rejected calls to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, made military incursions into neighboring states and flouted international law by keeping the lands of other nations under occupation, now makes such a big fuss over a country, Iran, that has not invaded another country since America became a sovereign nation.
 
"Mr. Netanyahu seems to be in a state of panic at the prospect of losing this tool with which to attack Iran, as we do all in our power to address the genuine concerns of the international community and arrive at a settlement over our country’s nuclear energy program. Iran’s efforts, epitomized by the 2013 interim agreement, aim to resolve the issue with the P5-plus-1 group of countries (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany). Since Israel’s prime minister appears to be a person who thrives on chaos and conflict, we fear that he may have further plans to poison the atmosphere and sow discord among those involved in this historic effort."
– March 3, 2015 in an op-ed in The New York Times
 
Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
 
“We are facing all sorts of pressure from outside but inside the country there’s even a greater challenge. Netanyahu is threatening Obama there [in Washington] and here [in Tehran] a group of people are threatening to reveal secrets. They [the internal opponents] are echoing Netanyahu.”
–  March 3, 2015 in an address to the Interior Ministry
 
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham

“Netanyahu's speech was totally a deceitful show and part of an electoral campaign made by radicals in Tel Aviv.”
 
“Netanyahu’s speech indicated his weakness and extreme isolation of the radical groups even among their supporters.”
 
"Constant lying of Netanyahu about goals and purposes of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is very much boring and not new."
 
"The Iranophobia scenario is facing serious problem now as the (nuclear) talks are continuing and Iran's is seriously determined to settle this fake crisis.”
– March 3, 2015, according to the press
 
"Netanyahu's remarks were repeated lies; the regime's hostilities towards the Iranian nation are obvious and the regime's lies have been completely revealed on the international scene.”
 
“The regime is entangled in a whirlpool of its mistakes, extremism and spread of insecurity and Netanyahu had better respect the global community's understanding and avoid repeating such words.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
 
“His very speech shows the regime’s frustration and concern, and it's no surprise that it is concerned because the regime’s power has been on the decline day by day over the past three decades."
 
Netanyahu's speech was a "political show."
– March 4, 2015, according to the press
 
Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani

“Of course, [Netanyahu] has made every effort to provoke countries against Iran and spread Iranophobia in the world, which is not something new and has continued for years.”
– March 4, 2015, according to the press

Vice President and Environment Department Head Masoumeh Ebtekar

"All nations are waiting for an agreement (between Iran and the world powers) and expect that Iran play its special role in resolving regional and international issues and Netanyahu's attempts will not have any impact in this regard."
– March 3, 2015, according to the press