Gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, who is a staunch supporter of the Israeli regime, made the comments at Yeshiva University in New York City on Tuesday.
Adelson, who donated nearly $100 million to Republicans during the 2012 election cycle, said Washington should first drop a nuclear bomb on desert areas in Iran.
“Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development,” he said.
80-year-old Adelson also owns a Tel Aviv newspaper that frequently magnifies warnings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.
His comments come amid intense lobbying efforts by Israelis and hawkish US lawmakers who are deeply concerned by the Iranian government’s diplomatic efforts to resolve the lengthy dispute with the West over Tehran’s nuclear energy program and Washington’s recent diplomatic outreach to Iran.
Last week, The New York Times reported that a senior White House official has said Washington is planning to unfreeze Iran’s overseas assets in order to reciprocate Tehran’s confidence-building measures over its nuclear energy program.
In response to the Times’ report, a group of Republican senators released a statement saying, “The U.S. should not suspend new sanctions, nor consider releasing limited frozen assets, before Tehran suspends its nuclear enrichment activities.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also sent a memo to US congressmen last week, claiming that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium.
Iran is a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Iranian government has stressed that its people’s rights to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, including enrichment, must be respected.