WSJ: Unrest in Tehran altering Israel's stance

'Wall Street Journal' says officials are reconsidering attack against Iran's nuclear targets in face of effective sanctions.

October 6, 2012 14:16
2 minute read.
Iranian police clash with protesters in Tehran

Iranian police clash with protesters in Tehran 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Winnepeg Jewish Review)


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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.

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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.

On 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."

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Last 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.

A 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.

However, Prime 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.

Speaking 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.

Yet 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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