Iranian President Hassan Rohani took the oath of office before parliament in Tehran on Sunday as Israel’s prime minister warned that the Islamic Republic continues to pose a threat to regional security.
Rohani, a relatively moderate cleric, pledged to uphold the constitution and protect the official religion of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a ceremony broadcast live on state television.
Earlier on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at new Iranian president, saying that he aimed to destroy the Jewish state.
“The president of Iran may have been changed but the aims of the regime there have not,” Netanyahu said.
“Iran’s intention is to develop a nuclear capability and nuclear weapons, with the aim of destroying the state of Israel,” he added
Rohani formally took office on Saturday at a ceremony in which he received the endorsement of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who retains the final say on all strategic issues, including nuclear talks with the the major powers.
Western governments suspect that Iran’s nuclear program is cover for a drive for a weapons capability. Iran insists it is for power generation and medical purposes only.
Both the United States and Israel – which has the Middle East’s sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal – have refused to rule out a resort to military action to prevent Iran developing a weapons capability.
Rohani too took a swipe at the Jewish state during Friday rallies marking the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day.
“In our region, a wound has for many years been sitting on the body of the Islamic world in the shadow of occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds,” Rohani said in remarks broadcast on state television.
He pledged allegiance to the Palestinian cause and rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, an unfaltering cornerstone of Iranian foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the US-backed shah.