Israeli PM calls for military threat to Iran
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said international sanctions against Iran would only be effective if they were backed by a "credible" military threat.
Netanyahu, speaking to foreign reporters in Jerusalem, repeated a call first made in November, saying it was the only way to ensure Tehran ended what he said was its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.
"The only chance that these sanctions will achieve their objectives would be to couple them with an understanding from Iran that no matter what ... that is if they do not achieve their goal, they will be followed with credible military action," Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader said only the fear of real consequences had deterred Iran in the past, adding that the sole pause in its programme took place in 2003.
"When Iran thought there was a credible military option from the United States they temporarily suspended their nuclear weapons programme," he said.
Netanyahu had made a similar call in the past, but it was rejected by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who said he believed sanctions were having an impact on Iran.
Israel, which has the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, regards Iran as its principal threat, after repeated predictions by the Islamic republic's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Jewish state's demise.
Along with the West, Israel suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, a claim Tehran denies.
Israel has backed US-led efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability through sanctions, but has also refused to rule out military force.
Netanyahu did not threaten an Israeli strike, but said the threats should come from the international community, led by the US.