Netanyahu thanks Ashton for Iran sanctions

Ban asks for toned down rhetoric

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Posted on: 
26 Jan 2012
Netanyahu thanks Ashton for Iran sanctions

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton in Jerusalem on Wednesday and thanked her for the EU’s recent strengthening of sanctions on Iran over the Islamic Republic’s renegade nuclear program. Also on Wednesday, the Washington DC based Institute for Science and International Security issued a report assessing that "Iran is unlikely to decide to dash toward making nuclear weapons as long as its uranium enrichment capability remains as limited as it is today." Part of the argument the report makes is that a combination of sanctions and the threat of military forces have deterred Iran’s leaders, seeming to confirm a long held position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The reports main author, the respected nuclear expert David Albright, said that he hoped the data presented in the report, which largely agrees with other US government assessments, would serve to lower the temperature on the white hit debate on what to do about Iran.

Other assessments, however, point out Iran’s pursuit of equipment, technology and expertise that could be used either for a weapons program or a civilian energy program, keeping Teheran’s options open and adding to an atmosphere of ambiguity which complicates the situation for Israel and the West.

Elsewhere, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York on Wednesday that it was time for all sides in the dispute to tone down their rhetoric.

"There is no alternative to a peaceful resolution of this," Ban told reporters in New York. "At the same time I have been urging the parties to first of all try to defuse the tension. These rhetorics are not helpful."

Regarding Teheran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 per cent of the world's oil shipments flows each year, he added, "this is a very important area for international trade and commerce, the Strait of Hormuz. The free passage of any ships in open seas should be respected and protected."

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a report on Wednesday warning that global oil prices could jump as much as 30% if Iran halts oil exports as a result of US and European Union sanctions. The concerns have several countries scrambling for alternative sources of oil. India declared on Wednesday that for now, it is continuing to purchase Iranian oil. Sanctions have also had a severe impact on Iran’s domestic economy, with foreign currency reserves nearly disappearing from many banks and the local currency, the Rial, losing over half its value since the first of the year.


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