Israel calls for tougher Iran sanctions (REUTERS) Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Chris Meyers; Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by Janet Lawrence TOKYO, JAPAN 02/18/12 1:23pm EST)
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(Reuters) - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday a
nuclear-armed Iran would trigger an arms race in the Middle East and
nations should impose "crippling" sanctions on Tehran to force it to
give up its atomic program.
"A nuclear Iran is a threat to the whole world, not just to
Israel ... Other major powers in the Middle East will have to try to
reach nuclear capability, probably Saudi Arabia, probably Turkey,
probably even Egypt," Barak told reporters in Tokyo.
"We have to accelerate the pace of imposing sanctions and make them
crippling and consequential to such an extent that the leadership ...
will be compelled to sit down and ... ask themselves ´are we ready to
pay the price of isolation from most, if not all, of the world?´" he
Barak said despite Western sanctions inflicting increasing damage on
Iran´s oil-based economy he had not seen any sign that Tehran was
ready to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Several rounds of increasingly punitive United Nations and Western
sanctions against Iran have failed to persuade it to halt its uranium
Iran Wednesday proclaimed advances in its nuclear know-how, including
new centrifuges able to faster enrich uranium and loaded its first
domestically produced batch of fuel into a research reactor.
An Iranian letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton, obtained by Reuters Thursday, proposed resuming long-stalled
nuclear talks with world powers in which Tehran would have "new
The United Nations and Western nations fear Iran is trying to obtain
nuclear weapons, Tehran says its nuclear program is for civilian
Tension between Iran and the West has mounted since November when the
International Atomic Energy Agency said Tehran appeared to have
worked on designing a nuclear weapon.
Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East´s only nuclear power,
has said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence.
Both Washington and Israel have not ruled out military action to stop
Tehran developing atomic bombs.
Barak is in Japan for talks with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and
ministers on issues including security in the Middle East and East
Asia. He is due to leave Japan Sunday.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an interview
published Saturday Iran was trying to develop a nuclear weapons
capability and if it succeeded it would set off a dangerous round of
nuclear proliferation across the Middle East. (© Thomson Reuters
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