Israel seeks tighter sanctions against Iran
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 00:28
  
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 said.

"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 attack.

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 coming months.

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 said.

"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 programme.

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.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 00:28


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