Iran top diplomat calls Israel's Netanyahu a liar

Oct 01, 2013, 10:13 AM EDT
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, makes a statement to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. The White House said the two leaders would discuss negotiations with the Palestinians, developments in Syria and Iran. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister has called the leader of Israel a liar who requires deception to promote his policies.

The Tuesday remarks by Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York were broadcast on Iranian state TV just hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to speak before the United Nations General Assembly.

They come a day after Netanyahu implored President Barack Obama to keep punishing sanctions in place against Tehran — and even tighten them if the Islamic republic advances its disputed nuclear programs while negotiating with the U.S.

"This is his nature, to lie... Over the past 22 years, the regime, Israel, has been saying Iran will have nuclear arms in six months," Zarif said. "The continuation of this game, in fact, is based on lying, deception, incitement and harassment."

He also called Netanyahu the "most isolated individual" at the U.N.

Also on Tuesday, Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham accused Israel of lashing out at Iran because of the effectiveness of its outreach to the United States.

"The pressure by the Zionist regime is because of its isolation, and the fact that that Iran's policy has been accepted on a global level," Afkham said at a regular media briefing in Tehran. "Zionists will apply pressure in various fields and their propaganda will continue," she added.

She said the White House should resist calls for war against the Islamic Republic, and that it currently was undergoing "a test to prove to what extent it can resist the war mongers."

"We expect U.S. officials to have a realistic attitude toward the great Iranian nation and to address it with respect," she added.

Iran and Israel see each other as arch enemies. Tehran does not recognize the Jewish state, and supports anti-Israeli militants like Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.

Israel has threatened to strike Iranian nuclear installations the West suspects have a military dimension. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is aimed at peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.