Israeli PM rejects UN nuclear moves

A new resolution from a United Nations conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unfairly singles out Israel while ignoring Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during an exclusive interview with CBC.

A new resolution from a United Nations conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unfairly singles out Israel while ignoring Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during an exclusive interview with CBC News.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, sat down with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge for an interview during a visit to Toronto on Sunday. ((CBC))

In a broad-ranging discussion with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, airing Sunday night, Netanyahu described the resolution as "flawed."

The resolution, released Friday after a month-long conference, calls on Israel to sign on to the treaty, a move that would allow the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to essentially regulate Israel's nuclear capabilities and inspect facilities.

Watch Peter Mansbridge's exclusive interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night on CBC News: The National on the CBC News Network at 9 p.m. ET and at 10 p.m. on the CBC main network. 

"I thought that was a particularly distorted and flawed resolution because it singled out Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East and the only country anywhere on Earth threatened with annihilation," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said the resolution failed to mention Iran, "which brazenly violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty." He also said Iran is "racing to arm itself with atomic weapons."

He said he doesn't think Israel will participate in the resolution's implementation.

Netanyahu said world leaders should be focusing on two major threats: the Taliban in Pakistan, who would like to acquire nuclear weapons, and Iran. He said there's clear evidence Iran is developing its own weapons program.

"It looks like a nuclear program, it walks like a nuclear program, it smells like a nuclear program. It's not a duck, it's a nuclear program," he told Mansbridge.

Iranian officials say their nuclear program is for energy purposes only.

Netanyahu called for tougher sanctions on Iran than those proposed by the U.S. or the UN, penalties "that prevent Iran from importing gasoline or prevent it from exporting oil."

On the Middle East peace process, Netanyahu said he wants to have direct discussions with Palestinian leaders and circumvent a third-party process now in place with the U.S.

"I'd like a direct engagement, direct talks. Sit in the room with them, raise our concerns and basically move towards my concept of peace, which is a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state of Israel," he said, prefacing that help from the U.S. is always appreciated.

Netanyahu praised the strong support he has received from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"Stephen Harper has been a great champion of defending Israel's basic right to defend itself, fighting the campaign to de-legitimize Israel." he said. "People take note. They take note of the friendship of the government of Canada and the people of Canada, and I've come here to express our appreciation for that."

PM addresses pro-Israel rally

In a speech Sunday to thousands of supporters at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself.

"We must ensure that we achieve a peace that is anchored in security, the only peace that will endure is a peace we can defend," he said. "A future Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized."

As he spoke for roughly half an hour, both critics and supporters peacefully held rallies in front of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place, near the venue.

Earlier in the day, the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto organized a walk in the city's south downtown core for supporters of Netanyahu.

On Monday morning, Netanyahu will meet with Harper in Ottawa where the two leaders will have the opportunity to discuss the nuclear and Mideast peace issues.

Members of an anti-Israel Jewish group rally at Exhibition Place. ((Ivy Cuervo/CBC))