Sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and the European Union are not enough to force Tehran to halt its nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.
“As long as there won’t be real and effective sanctions against Iran’s petroleum industry and central bank, there will be no real effect on Iran’s nuclear program,” Netanyahu told MPs at a parliamentary committee, with his remarks transmitted by a spokesman, AFP news agency reported.
“The current sanctions employed against Iran harm the Iranians, but not in a way that could bring to a halt in the country’s nuclear program,” he said.
“Without significant sanctions on the central bank and petroleum exports, Iran will continue to advance its nuclear plans.”
Western powers believe Iran’s nuclear program masks a weapons drive supported by a new nuclear site which has recently started operations, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Tehran, however, insists that the nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes, including civilian energy and medical purposes.
Both Israel and the United States are seeking tough new international sanctions on Tehran, particularly on its oil exports and financial institutions.
Also on Monday, Israel’s foreign minister called for tough sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and its oil and gas industry to “suffocate” Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but did not rule out military action.
“I don’t speak about any military preparations, I think until today it’s enough with tough sanctions to suffocate these Iranian ambitions, but we keep all options on the table,” Avigdor Lieberman told reporters in Warsaw at a joint press conference with Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski.
Lieberman further urged “restrictions and sanctions against their central bank and sanctions against their oil and gas industry, including drilling and their refineries and everything that is connected to their oil and gas production.”
“The caution we have taken until this point has proven itself,” he said, adding that there is “an inherent explosiveness” in the situation.
On Sunday, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon said he thought Washington should be tougher on Iran.
“France and Britain understand that the sanctions must be strengthened, in particular against the Iranian Central Bank,” Yaalon told public radio.
“The U.S. Senate is also in favour, but the U.S. government is hesitating, fearing higher oil prices in an election year,” he said, adding: “It’s disappointing.”
Iran has responded by threatening to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, key to global oil exports from Persian Gulf states.
Lieberman also pointed to what he termed Tehran’s “involvement in terrorist activity around the world” including South America, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.
“For all these reasons I think it’s time now to move from discussions and slogans to really tough measures and tough sanctions on the Iranian regime,” he said.