Barak: Sanctions welcome, but won't stop Iran

Defense minister satisfied with Europe's reaction to UK embassy storming but doubts effectiveness of sanctions.

December 1, 2011 10:08
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak 311. (photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday said that while he would be pleased if sanctions and diplomacy would cause Iran to abandon its military nuclear program,  he does not believe this is likely to occur.

Speaking in an interview with Israel Radio, Barak said he views as positive the reaction of Britain and many of its European allies to the storming of the UK's embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters earlier this week. Britain closed its embassy in Tehran in reaction to the attack, shut Iran's embassy in London and expelled the Islamic Republic's diplomatic staff from the country. France, Germany and the Netherlands said they were recalling their ambassadors for consultations, and Germany reduced its diplomatic staff in Tehran after the assault on the embassy.

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'Blast in Iran struck uranium enrichment facility'

EU foreign ministers plan to meet in Brussels on Thursday to map out Europe’s response to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in recent weeks that suggested Iran has worked on designing an atom bomb. Diplomats said Wednesday that the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran, could provide extra ammunition to European governments pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran – in particular a contentious embargo on Iranian oil.

Barak stated that such actions were welcome and military action to stop Iran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons remained the last option.

"Israel is not looking for war with Iran," Barak stated; however, he added that Israel is "very strong" and would not hesitate to act to defend its citizens if "pushed into a corner." He reiterated his belief that "not even 500" Israeli citizens would be killed in an Iranian attack on the Jewish state if everyone stayed in their homes.

Barak responded to US military chief Martin Dempsey's assertion that he did not know whether Israel would alert the United States ahead of time if it decided to take military action against Iran. The defense minister stated that Israel listens to the United States and appreciates it as an ally, but he emphasized that Israel is a sovereign state, responsible for its own security and the safety of its citizens.

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