Dan Meridor 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
VIENNA - Sanctions have a chance of preventing Iran becoming a "military nuclear country" if the economic and political pressure on Tehran is stepped up further, a senior government official said on Friday.
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Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said it was important to increase sanctions pressure on the Islamic Republic during a visit to Vienna, where he met UN nuclear chief Yukiya Amano and Austrian leaders.
Iran should face a "heavier price every week, every month, so that they understand they are not going to get away with it," Meridor told Reuters.
"[Pressure]...has a chance of success, if it is taken seriously, if it is persistent, if it is very clear, if it is accelerating," he added.
But Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military uses, has drawn four rounds of UN sanctions on the major oil producer since 2006.
In addition, the United States and the European Union have taken
measures that go beyond the UN steps, including sanctions targeting
Iran's lifeblood energy sector.
Meridor, the intelligence and atomic energy minister
, suggested the push may be having an impact.
"Some months ago we had first signs that people in the Iranian
leadership speak of it," he said. "They haven't yet changed the course, I
don't have this illusion, but I think [they are feeling] the price is
getting higher and higher."
Meridor made clear his view that more such action was needed in order to persuade the Iranian leadership to back down.
"Time is of the essence here. Every day gets us and them closer to the
day in which Iran will become a military nuclear country."
Iran, which like other major oil exporters is benefiting from a high crude price, has repeatedly dismissed the sanctions.