Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Monday for an immediate embargo on Iran's energy sector, saying the UN Security Council should be sidestepped if it cannot agree on the move.
Iran's uranium enrichment in defiance of several rounds of Security Council sanctions has spurred world powers to consider tougher measures to halt what the West fears is a drive to produce nuclear weapons.
Israel has endorsed the talks while hinting at pre-emptive military action should it deem diplomacy a dead end.
If the world "is serious about stopping Iran, then what it needs to do is not watered-down sanctions, moderate sanctions ... but effective, biting sanctions that curtail the import and export of oil into Iran," Netanyahu said in a speech.
"This is what is required now. It may not do the job, but nothing else will, and at least we will have known that it's been tried. And if this cannot pass in the Security Council, then it should be done outside the Security Council, but immediately."
Though it is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, Iran imports some 40 percent of its gasoline from foreign refineries.
Many Western diplomats believe that China, along with fellow veto-wielder Russia, would block any Security Council sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector. Proposed sanctions for now focus on Iranian government assets like the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
First Published: Monday, February 22, 2010, 21:01