UNITED NATIONS - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played the spoiler Tuesday to any easing of Iran's relations with the West, telling world leaders his country will do whatever it takes to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it has to stand alone.
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu asserted that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must have known about a terror attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994, as well as the 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans, because he was national security adviser at the time.
Last week, President Barack Obama and the Iranian leader spoke on the phone, the highest level contacts between their countries in 34 years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the 68th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday.
Netanyahu said Israel's future is threatened by a "nuclear-armed" Iran seeking its destruction and urged the international community to keep up pressure through sanctions.
"Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons," he said. "If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone, but in standing alone Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others," Netanyahu added.
An Iranian diplomat, Khodadad Seifi, shot back: "Unlike Israel, Iran would not and did not attack any country."
"It is not due to its inability, but due to its principled policy in rejecting any use of force," Seifi, a deputy ambassador to Iran's U.N. mission, told the assembly. "Therefore the Israeli prime minister had better not even think about attacking Iran let alone planning for that."
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said Netanyahu's skepticism about Iran and its intentions is "entirely justifiable" because until recently Iran's leadership "was pledging to annihilate Israel." He said the U.S. share's Israel's goal of keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Carney stressed that Obama will be "very firm" on demanding verifiable, transparent action to ensure that Iran has given up its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would have a choke-hold on the world's main energy supplies.
"It would trigger nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger," the Israeli leader said.