Israel's prime minister says repressive actions taken by Iranian authorities against demonstrators protesting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory have revealed the true nature of the government, and underscore the need to prevent Iran from developing offensive nuclear capability.
Appearing on U.S. television, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said events in Iran over the last week have shown the true face of the government in Tehran.
"Obviously, you see a regime that represses its own people and spreads terror far and wide. It is a regime whose real nature has been unmasked," he said.
Mr. Netanyahu was speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. The prime minister said the repression the world has witnessed should strengthen the international community's resolve to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.
"The problem that now faces the entire world is to ask a simple question: can we allow this brutal regime that sees no inhibitions in how it treats its own citizens and its purported enemies abroad -- can we allow such a regime to acquire nuclear weapons? And the answer we hear from far and wide is 'no'," he said.
Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program's sole aim is to generate energy to meet the needs of a growing population, and that it is entirely within its rights to develop such a capability. The United States and many other nations are highly skeptical of Tehran's claim of peaceful nuclear intentions.
Mr. Netanyahu was asked if Israel has plans to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, as it has done against suspected nuclear sites of other Middle Eastern nations in the past. The prime minister responded, "We [Israelis] are threatened as no other people are threatened. We have suffered exiles, massacres and the greatest massacre of them all, the holocaust. So, obviously Israel always reserves the right to defend itself."
In recent days, U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly spoken out against repression and bloodshed in Iran, while insisting that the country's future is a matter for the Iranian people to decide. The White House says it hopes to engage Tehran on its nuclear program.
Asked whether he thinks the Obama administration is doing enough to stand up for liberty and democracy in Iran, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was not, in his words, "going to second-guess the president of the United States".