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Netanyahu doubts Iran sanctions are working

US officials share gloomy assessment

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17 Feb 2012 (All day)
Netanyahu doubts Iran sanctions are working

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters during his historic visit to Cyprus on Thursday that  “if anybody needed a reminder that the sanctions have not stopped the nuclear program, it was the guided tour by Iran’s president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) in the centrifuge hall yesterday.  I hope they work, but so far they have not.” He added that the regime in Teheran “breaks all the rules” because it “send children into mine fields, they have suicide bombers, they send tens of thousands of rockets into our cities and towns. Such a regime should obviously not have an atomic bomb, and I believe that the international community is becoming aware by the day of what it means for Iran [to have nuclear potential].” During the visit, Netanyahu and Cypriot President Demetris Christofias also announced enhanced cooperation in the development of natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.

Netanyahu’s assessment was supported on Thursday by Lt.- Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency.

“Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons,” Gen. Burgess told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.  “While international pressure on Iran has increased, including through sanctions, we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandon its nuclear program.”

Adding that Iran posseses plenty of option for disrupting oil exports out of the Persian Gulf, carrying out terrorist attacks and asymmetrical warfare in the Gulf, but “the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”

“We believe that the decision would be made by the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] himself and he would base that decision on a cost-benefit analysis,” agreed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “I don’t think he’d want a nuclear weapon at any price, so that I think plays to the value of sanctions.”

He added that he did not think Israel had made a firm decision on attacking Iran in the spring as has been widely reported, and that the US and Israel “largely agree” in their assessments of Iran’s nuclear progress.

“Iran and al-Qaida have, to a certain extent, a shotgun marriage,” he added. “The Iranians may think that they might use perhaps al-Qaida in the future as a surrogate or proxy.”

Elsewhere, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the House Appropriations subcommittee that;

“The international community has sent a very clear message (to Iran.) We will not tolerate this. You’ve got to change your ways. You’ve got to come into the international community. You’ve got to abide by international laws, rules and regulations.”

“We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. (However) intelligence does not show they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon. That is the red line that would concern us and that would ensure the international community, hopefully together, would respond.”

 “We are open … to negotiations with them to try to find a diplomatic solution to these issues, but we do keep all options on the table in the event the red lines, I just made very clear, are crossed,” Panetta said.

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed high support for an Israeli military attack on Iran’s renegade nuclear program if it should become necessary. The same poll showed low levels of faith in the efficacy of sanctions.

 

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