Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for “tight, ratcheted up” sanctions against Iran to force the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions and said the political process had further to go before a military strike.
“We’re still in the sanctions stage and we expect them to become even more tight,” Barak said at a press conference Saturday in Tokyo at the end of a four-day visit. “I think there is consensus in most capitals of the world that Iran should not be allowed to turn into a nuclear military power.”
Military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities must be considered before the country achieves “the same kind of immunity as Kim Jong Il,” Barak said, referring to the deceased North Korean leader who defied international pressure to abandon nukes. The US and Europe have increased sanctions to get the Islamic Republic to negotiate and head off conflict in the region.
Iran says its enrichment of uranium is for civilian use while Jerusalem says it is aimed at making weapons.
The international community needs “tight, ratcheted up sanctions against Iran, not only oil but sanctions against the central bank and removing its access to international clearing systems,” Barak said. “This should be done definitively and without delay.”
Swift, the global bank-transfer messaging service, said Friday it is prepared to impose sanctions against Iranian financial institutions once the European Union sets out implementation rules.
Pressure to slash Iranian oil consumption
Countries can’t hide behind the threat of losing oil from Iran in deciding whether to take action, because Saudi Arabia is ready to increase production and exports from Iraq are also increasing, said Barak, who met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his defense and foreign ministers during the visit.
Japan is seeking an exemption from a US law that would punish its banks unless it cuts Iranian oil imports. Noda and his ministers have said Japan has reduced Iranian crude purchases by 40 percent in the past five years and will continue to do so without giving a specific target.
Iran halted oil exports to France and the Netherlands and threatened to end shipments to four other European countries, the state-run Mehr news agency reported Feb. 15. The move came after the European Union in January agreed to halt Iranian crude purchases as of July 1.