JERUSALEM, Israel -- In a powerful speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel will "stand alone," if necessary, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map," Netanyahu said Tuesday.
"Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons," he said. "If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone."
Netanyahu dismissed the diplomatic whirl conducted last week by new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, calling it a "charm offensive."
He cautioned that despite a difference in tone from the former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani's goals for Iran remain the same: the end of international sanctions against Iran and completion of a nuclear weapons program.
"Now I know Rouhani does not sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing and Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing -- a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community," Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader accused Rouhani of masterminding Iran's strategy to advance the country's nuclear weapons program in previous years. He also emphasized that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a dictator and the real power in Tehran.
In last year's General Assembly speech, Netanyahu used charts and a drawing of a bomb to illustrate a "red line" that Israel would not allow Iran to cross in its nuclear development.
He said Tuesday that Iran has not yet crossed that line, but warned that the country's nuclear enrichment program and the building of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's) for delivering nuclear warheads continues, including "ICBM's that the United States says could reach this city [New York] in three or four years."
The prime minister's vow that Israel would act on its own to stop Iran from going nuclear was undoubtedly a reference to the recent U.S. decision to engage Iran in a new round of diplomatic negotiations.
Last week, President Barack Obama became the first American president in three decades to speak with the Iranian president by telephone.
Netanyahu also decried Iran's feigned sorrow over the human tragedy in Syria, where more than 120,000 are dead and millions are refugees.
At the same time, Netanyahu said Iran directly participated in "Syria's murder and massacre of innocents" and continues to back the regime that used chemical weapons on its own people.
Near the end of his 30-minute speech, Netanyahu quoted from the biblical prophet Amos:
"In our time, the biblical prophecies have been realized: As the prophet Amos said: '…they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them, they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, they shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil, never to be uprooted again.'"
The prime minister's message to those who would seek his nation's destruction was, "The people of Israel have come home, never to be uprooted again."