Rouhani's UN speech is a 'cynical PR stunt', says Netanyahu

President Rouhani spoke to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday

President Rouhani spoke to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's UN speech was nothing more than a public relations stunt, according to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Rouhani told the UN General Assembly that Iran’s nuclear programme posed no threat, and that sanctions imposed against his country violated its human rights. He added that his wished to engage with the West to ease tensions.

But Mr Netanyahu said the speech was merely a “smokescreen” and that “the international community must test Iran not by its words but by its actions”.

In a statement explaining the Israeli delegation’s decision to boycott Rouhani’s appearance, he said: “As the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, I could not allow the Israeli delegation to be part of a cynical public relations ploy by a regime that denies the Holocaust and calls for our destruction.”

He added: “It is no coincidence that the speech lacked both any practical proposal to stop Iran’s military nuclear programme and any commitment to fulfill UN Security Council decisions.”

Mr Netanyahu will address the UN General Assembly next Tuesday, where he is expected to warn world leaders against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Last updated: 12:12pm, September 25 2013