Netanyahu Says Israel May Have to Deal With Iran ‘Before’ U.S.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed speculation that Iranian president-elect Hassan Rohani’s victory last month signals a possible change in Iranian nuclear policy, and urged the international community to toughen the sanctions. Photographer: Oded Balilty/Pool/Getty Images

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran is moving ahead toward nuclear weapons capability and warned that his country would act by itself if necessary to prevent that from happening.

“We’re closer than the United States,” Netanyahu said today in an interview on CBS-TV’s current affairs program “Face the Nation,” according to a transcript of his remarks. “We’re more vulnerable. And therefore, we’ll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does.”

Iranian officials have said the country’s nuclear facilities are intended only for civilian purposes such as energy and medical purposes. Netanyahu has said Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons that would pose an “existential threat” to Israel and “all options are on the table” to stop it, including a military strike.

Iran’s president-elect, Hassan Rohani, has said he would seek to ease international economic sanctions aimed at curtailing the development of his country’s nuclear program. Netanyahu dismissed speculation that Rohani’s victory last month signals a possible change in Iranian nuclear policy, and urged the international community to toughen the sanctions.

Rohani’s strategy “is be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Smile and build a bomb,” the Israeli leader said on “Face the Nation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at cbendavid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net