The Wall Street Journal reported
on Friday that the protests in Iran linked to the country's weakening
currency are causing Israeli officials to reconsider the likelihood of a
strike against Iranian nuclear targets in the coming months.
According to the Journal, the protests have raised hopes in Israel that international sanctions are working to undermine Tehran.
The Journal quoted
an Israeli official as saying, "Everything has changed" since the
outbreak of the demonstrations on Wednesday. "You can't say now that the
sanctions are having no impact at all. It is self-evident.''
Similarly, The Washington Post reported
on Friday that as prices flare in Tehran, Israeli officials are urging
additional sanctions and tempering, for now, suggestions of a possible
Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites this fall.
However, The Washington Post also
quotes officials as saying the emphasis on sanctions does not represent
a shift in Israeli policy. If Europe toughens sanctions, it could
prompt other countries to do the same, the Post quoted a government official as saying.
Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said "the Arab Spring will
be followed by a Persian Spring," and that Israel has interests in
lobbying the international community to encourage regime change by
supporting internal opposition groups.
Liberman said: "I have no
doubt that the Iranian regime is approaching a critical moment,'' he
said in an interview with Israel Radio. "The big question is what will
come first: the development of a nuclear weapon, or the Persian
Spring…We have to be ready for both options."
week, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz predicted that Iran's economy is
edging towards collapse due to international sanctions over its
controversial nuclear program.
"The sanctions on Iran in the past
year jumped a level," Steinitz said. "The Iranians are in great
economic difficulties as a result of the sanctions," he added.
Foreign Ministry document leaked last week said sanctions had caused
more damage to Iran's economy than at first thought and ordinary
Iranians were suffering under soaring inflation.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that, although sanctions are taking
their toll, they are not yet forcing Iran to abandon work that could
soon lead to a nuclear warhead.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also holding out the possibility that sanctions on Iran could be eased quickly if Tehran worked with major powers to address questions about its nuclear program.
to reporters about protests in Iran triggered by the collapse of the
Iranian currency, which has lost 40 percent of its value against the
dollar in a week, Clinton blamed the Iranian government - rather than
Western sanctions - for the financial troubles.
"They have made
their own government decisions - having nothing to do with the sanctions
- that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside of the
country," Clinton told reporters when asked about the protests.
Israeli officials appear increasingly ready to acknowledge the effect
of recent American and European sanctions designed to restrict Iran's
lifeline oil exports.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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