By Justin Sink - 07/13/14 10:26 AM EDT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted claims from Iran that officials not interested in developing a nuclear weapon as “a sham” as talks between Tehran and six world powers enter their final week.
“It’s a joke,” Netanyahu said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “Of course they’re developing nuclear weapons. They’ve invested if not billions, you can start counting it in maybe hundreds of billions of dollars - for what? For creating medical isotopes for Iranian patients circling the Earth? What are they developing ICBMs for if not for nuclear war?”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Iran was “not seeking nuclear weapons” because he believes “nuclear weapons reduces countries' influence in our region.”
“I believe nuclear weapons reduces countries' influence in our region. It doesn't help anybody,” Zarif said. “The fact that everybody in the international community believes that mutual assured destruction — that is the way the United States, Russia and others, seek peace and security through having the possibility of destroying each other 100 times over is simply mad.”
But Netanyahu dismissed Zarif’s arguments, blasting Iran as “the preeminent terror empire of our time.”
“If they wanted to just have civilian nuclear energy, they could have it without centrifuges for enrichment, without plutonium, the heavy water - this is only used for nuclear weapons,” he said. “So this is a sham.”
Netanyahu said Israel would only be satisfied if negotiator were able “to replicate the Syrian deal” and fully dismantle and remove all nuclear weapons capabilities from Iran. He said he did not think a freeze of Iran’s weapons program and the installation of monitors would be to the benefit of the U.S. and its allies.
“I think a bad deal is actually worse than no deal,” Netanyahu said.
Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Vienna on Sunday to participate in the ongoing talks.
"Obviously, we have some very significant gaps still, so we need to see if we can make some progress," Kerry said. "I really look forward to a very substantive and important set of meetings and dialogues."
"It is vital to make certain that Iran is not going to develop a nuclear weapon, that their program is peaceful," Kerry added.
Netanyahu also discussed the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestine, vowing to do “whatever’s necessary” to end the rocket fire from Gaza.
“We can’t enable our population to be under continuous rocket fire. I just want your viewers to imagine the United States being bombarded, not in one city or two cities, but in every city between New York and Colorado,” Netanyahu said.
“Our mission is to restore a sustainable quiet, sustainable security to our people by seriously degrading Hamas and other terrorist groups’ capabilities in Gaza. I think were preceding, and we’ll continue until much of that goal is achieved.”