Tags: israel | iran | sanctions | un

Israel's Lieberman Calls for UN Sanctions on Iran

Tuesday, 28 Jul 2009 12:14 PM

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he was in favor of tougher U.N. sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to halt its nuclear program, which he described as a "threat" to the world.

"We see that the situation with Iran is really a big threat not only for Israel but for (the) entire world," Lieberman said during a visit to Peru, part of a 10-day swing through Latin America aimed in part at countering Tehran's growing influence in the region.

"If this regime will achieve nuclear power it's a real threat. We need to stop Iranians," he said.

"We think the best solution is tough sanctions in the U.N. and we hope this meeting in U.N. in September can bring a real change in the Iranian problem."

Israel and the West suspect that Iran, a sworn enemy of the Jewish state, seeks to obtain nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian nuclear program, a charge Tehran strongly denies.

Iran is already subject to three sets of U.N. sanctions following its refusal to heed repeated ultimatums from the Security Council to halt sensitive nuclear work.

Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist who is part of the hawkish government of new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in early May that U.S.-led efforts to negotiate an end to the Iran nuclear standoff should last only three months before "practical steps" are taken.

Earlier in the month, President Barack Obama said the international community would not "just wait indefinitely" as Tehran developed a nuclear weapon.

And on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Israel that Washington hopes Iran will respond to overtures on its nuclear program by September, "perhaps by the time of the U.N. General Assembly" which begins that month.

Israel's foreign ministry in May accused Venezuela and Bolivia — which both severed ties with Israel in January over its deadly military assault on the Gaza Strip — of assisting Iran with its nuclear program, a charge rejected by La Paz.

Lieberman did not include Venezuela, Iran's closest ally in the region, in his trip, but he did visit Brazil, where President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva did not join in the international criticism of the Iranian elections, whose results were challenged by Iranian protesters.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been scheduled to visit Brazil in May, but canceled at the last minute to concentrate on the controversial June 12 elections at home. Iran has said Ahmadinejad would visit Brazil some time after August.

Lieberman also visited Argentina, the country with the region's largest Jewish community, on his Latin America trip, which concludes Tuesday in Colombia.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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