PM to tell Europeans: Sanctioning Iran now will prevent military action later

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will tell his counterparts in Britain and Germany during his meetings there this week that the stronger the sanctions that are imposed on Teheran now, the less likely there will be a need for "nondiplomatic" action later. Netanyahu, who leaves on Monday for a four-day, two-country European trip, will be meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday. Germany is one of Iran's two largest trading partners in Europe, the other being Italy. Government officials said Iran would obviously be a major component of Netanyahu's discussions. One official said that since the Iranian elections in June and the bloody aftermath, there was now "greater understanding in the international community as to the character of the Iranian regime," and therefore a "greater appetite to place pressure on that regime to" halt its march toward nuclear weapons. "Sometimes the Europeans get very concerned when people talk about options other than diplomatic ones," the official said. "They have to understand that the more serious the steps today, the less there would be a need to resort to nondiplomatic steps later." The prime minister is expected to bring specific suggestions and recommendations for stepped-up sanctions. Among the ideas currently being discussed if Iran continues to rebuff US overtures for engagement are embargoes on refined petrol exports to Iran, which make up some 40 percent of the Islamic republic's annual fuel consumption. Additional measures that are being bandied about are bans on insurance for companies doing business with Iran, additional sanctions against Iranian banks, bans on investment, and terminating Iranian landing and docking rights at airports and seaports around the world.