Tokyo: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak
on Saturday called on the world to tighten sanctions on Iran before
the country enters a "zone of immunity" against a physical
attack to stop its nuclear programme.
"We have to accelerate the pace of imposing sanctions,"
he told a news conference in Tokyo.
The world must force the Iranians to ask themselves, "Are
we ready to pay the price of isolation by most, if not all, of
the world or should we decide to stop the nuclear effort?" he
"The world should ratchet up the sanctions," he said,
"before the Iranians fully enter this immunity zone."
Barak, also Israel`s deputy prime minister, has often
used the phrase "zone of immunity" to mean a point where
Tehran`s nuclear programme becomes invulnerable to physical
But he brushed aside a February 3 article in the
Washington Post that US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta thinks
Israel may possibly strike Iran`s nuclear installations in the
Post columnist David Ignatius wrote Panetta "believes
there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in
April, May or June" before Iran enters a "zone of immunity."
Panetta told reporters later he had no comment on the
article as his views were just his own.
But he added: "Israel indicated they`re considering this
(a strike), we`ve indicated our concerns."
Asked about the article, Barak said US support for
Israel`s security had been "extremely advanced and deep" under
President Barack Obama.
"We appreciate the Americans standing behind Israel in
the issue of security. But we could not conclude from this
anything about details about what could happen in Iran," Barak
"We are still in the sanctions stage and expect them to
get even more tight."
Iran has been slapped with four sets of UN sanctions and
a raft of unilateral US and European Union sanctions over its
nuclear drive which Tehran maintains is peaceful but which
much of the international community suspects masks a weapons
Barak was visiting Tokyo as tensions between Israel and
Iran flared following bombings in New Delhi, Tbilisi and
Bangkok earlier this week, but Iran angrily rejected
accusations that it was behind the "terrorist" acts.