The most stringent sanctions on Iran's oil industry ever to be passed and measures preventing the Islamic Republic from using the SWIFT electronic fund transfer system to make international transfers are unlikely to make the regime in Tehran abandon its nuclear military program, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a CNN interview scheduled to be aired on Sunday.
"It's clear that the depth of the sanctions is different from what we had in the past and it has its impact. Both the closing of the SWIFT clearing system as well as the sanctions on the oil exports and, of course, the coming negotiations. It probably will encourage them to move. But to tell you the truth, we hope for the better. But I don't believe that this amount of sanctions and pressure will bring the Iranian leadership to the conclusion that they have to stop their nuclear military program," Barak stated.
Barak said that, despite his pessimism, Israel is not against talks between the P5+1 group of world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear program, scheduled to take place later this month.
"We are not against any kind of effective and urgent sanctions, not even against negotiations," Barak stated, adding, however, that Israel had made clear to the US that negotiations would be a failure if they did not end in Iran not only stopping uranium enrichment to 20 percent, but agreeing to remove all uranium enriched to 20% to a "trusted" neighboring country.
"But if the P5+1 will settle for a much lower threshold, like just stopping enriching 20%, it means that basically the Iranians, at a very cheap cost, bought their way into continuing their military program, slightly slower, but without sanctions. That would be a total change of direction for the world," the defense minister warned.
Barak attempted to send the message to the world that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be merely an Israeli problem.
"We see the Iranian nuclear military program as a challenge to the whole world, not just to Israel. We are convinced that to deal with it once it's nuclear will be much more complicated, much more dangerous, much more costly in terms of both the human life as well as financial resources."