Ayalon: Iranian economy very vulnerable to sanctions

Deputy FM says that sanctions a viable alternative to a military strike; states that the fall of Assad in Damascus would be big blow to Tehran; adds that Egypt's Brotherhood committed to Israel peace.

Danny Ayalon 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Danny Ayalon 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Saturday that the Iranian economy is very susceptible to sanctions. "Iran is a very vulnerable country and we can hurt it by imposing tough economic sanctions. We can use this option as a viable alternative to a military strike."
In late December, Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on its crude-oil exports. Europe and the United States have stepped up sanctions on the Islamic republic in recent weeks in an attempt to force it to abandon its nuclear program.
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The Western action has already hit Iran's rial currency, which fell by 40 percent against the dollar in the past month. It recently recovered 20% of its value through intervention by Iran's Central Bank.
Speaking at a cultural conference in Beersheba, Ayalon added that Iran will be hurt further in the event that Syria's Bashar Assad falls. "I do no think that Assad will vanish in the near future. But it is clear that whoever replaces him will be preferable to the current regime. Iran will be hurt very much by the fall of Bashar Assad."
Turning to Egypt, Ayalon repeated the assessment that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is not in danger, and that it is in the best interest of the Islamists to maintain relations with the Jewish State.
The Muslim Brotherhood recently assured the United States that it will not break the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty despite public statements to the contrary.
"We have had other assurances from the party with regard to their commitment not only to universal human rights, but to the international obligations that the Government of Egypt has undertaken," US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Thursday in a briefing.
Ayalon also discussed the Saudi hacker that infiltrated numerous Israeli websites and published personal information and credit card numbers online. "We will hit whoever hurts or tries to hurt Israel, including within the cyber realm. We have to first discover whether this was the work of an individual or whether it was an organized attack."
Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threatClick here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat
"The United States has officially stated that any attack on its computer systems is a declaration of war and the country will respond appropriately, including with missile fire if necessary," said Ayalon.  "Israel should learn from the US example."
The hacker published almost 11,000 new Israeli credit card numbers and personal contact details to the public on Thursday, following the release of around 15,000 numbers earlier this week.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.