WASHINGTON – Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz consulted Wednesday with members of
Congress on how to move forward with stiffer sanctions against Iran in the wake
of another inconclusive meeting between world powers and Tehran.
to Rep. Howard Berman, a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
said the congressman’s meeting with Mofaz in Washington addressed “ways in which
crippling sanctions can be taken to the next level.”
Berman and other
members of the committee have been key in driving through sanctions against
Iran, and Israel has been concerned that the nuclear talks would lead to less
aggressive action from the international community to stop Tehran’s nuclear
Later Wednesday, Mofaz discussed Iran with US Secretary of State
Following their meeting Mofaz released a written statement saying: "It is time for the United States and Western powers to impose more severe sanctions in the oil embargo and financial sectors in order to stop Iran's nuclear development program."
Mofaz said that in addition to economic steps there was a need "to continue to prepare all other options", an oblique suggestion that a military attack to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon remained a possible course of action.
On Tuesday Mofaz said that any military action against Iran – a path of last resort – should be led by
the United States.
“The use of military power should be the last option,
and I believe that this option should be led by the US and the Western
countries,” Mofaz, who is a former defense minister, told the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.
He also said leaders should ask two
questions before deciding to take such a step: “We should ask ourselves how much
will we delay the Iranian program – how many months, how many years – and what
will happen the day after in the region.”
Mofaz also told the Washington
think tanks that Israel should try to move forward in the peace process, and at
least to try to reach an interim agreement.
The Obama administration is
hoping that Mofaz’s more moderate positions toward making a deal will add
momentum to a stagnating negotiating process now that his Kadima party is part
of the coalition.
The theme was also one he raised with members of
Congress, the Berman aide said.
Mofaz thanked Berman for all his support
for funding for the Iron Dome rocket-defense system, according to the aide.
America has recently contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to help Israel
speed up deployment of the systems.
“The ongoing destructive and
indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza further demonstrates that Congress was
right to secure additional funding for the deployment of Iron Dome missile
defense batteries,” Berman said in a statement released after their meeting.
“Iron Dome is a game changer, saving innocent lives and protecting Israelis.”
Reuters contributed to this report