Last updated: 16 September, 2012

Netanyahu: Iran guided by unbelievable fanaticism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a fresh push to turn the screws on Iran’s nuclear program, saying the Islamic Republic’s leaders are guided by “unbelievable fanaticism.”

Netanyahu’s comments, part of an interview to be aired on NBC television’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, came after the hawkish leader of the Jewish state made repeated demands that US President Barack Obama set unambiguous “red lines” on the program.

“I think Iran is very different. They put their zealotry above their survival. They have suicide bombers all over the place. I wouldn’t rely on their rationality,” Netanyahu said, suggesting Iran cannot be contained in the same way as the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“Since the advent of nuclear weapons, you have countries that had access to nuclear weapons who always made a careful calculation of cost and benefit. But Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.”

Netanyahu even made a link between Iran’s hardline leadership and the wave of violent protests against US and other Western diplomatic posts around the world triggered by an amateur Internet film made in the United States that denigrates Islam and its Prophet Mohammed.

“It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?” he asked.

The Israeli leader said critics who argue that taking action against Iran’s nuclear program was “a lot worse” than a nuclear-armed Tehran, or that an Iran with nuclear weapons would stabilize the Middle East, “have set a new standard for human stupidity.”

Israel, the Middle East’s sole, if undeclared, nuclear power, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state and has threatened unilateral military action against Tehran.

But Washington backs continued diplomatic pressure and says it is not the time for a strike against the nuclear program, which Israel and much of the West worry masks a weapons drive.