Last updated: 26 February, 2013

Israel’s Lieberman urges tougher Iran measures

Avigdor Lieberman, the head of Israel’s foreign and defence committee, on Tuesday called for tougher sanctions against Iran to curb its nuclear drive, saying the current measures were not enough.

Speaking as world powers were holding talks with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, the former foreign minister said Israel had “no illusions on Iran’s intention of dragging out the process and wasting time”.

“Based on the experience with North Korea, the international powers must realise that sanctions alone will not suffice,” Lieberman said in remarks relayed by the parliamentary committee’s spokesman.

“In order to rein them in, it’s time to resort to more practical measures,” he said without indicating their nature or source.

The P5+1 — the UN Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany — were in Kazakhstan on Tuesday holding crunch talks with Iran aimed at breaking a decade of deadlock over its nuclear drive.

Hopes are low of a breakthrough at the talks — the first such since a meeting in Moscow in June 2012 — and Iranian officials have doused expectations by insisting they will offer no special concessions.

Israel — the Middle East’s sole, albeit undeclared, nuclear power — believes Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon, as do the the United States and much of the West. Tehran strongly denies the charge.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report saying Iran had started installing new and advanced centrifuges at Natanz, which would enable it to speed up the enrichment of uranium.

This prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin to warn that Iran was “closer than ever” to the ability to build a nuclear bomb.

Earlier, the IAEA said sanctions imposed on Iran by the West — particularly the United States and the European Union — slashed its oil export revenue by $40 billion in 2012.