Israel and the United States are discussing a new raft of sanctions that could be imposed on Iran if the next round of talks between world powers and Tehran fail, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday.
US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen said in an interview with the newspaper the sanctions would be imposed if talks in Russia slated for mid-June failed to halt Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers — the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany — have held two rounds of talks already, and are scheduled for a third in Moscow on June 18-19 as a July 1 deadline looms for the enforcement of an EU embargo on Iranian oil.
“If we don’t get a breakthrough in Moscow there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure,” said Cohen, who coordinates US sanctions policy against Iran.
“The important point for the Israeli public to understand and for the Iranian leadership to understand is that if we are not able to make progress on the diplomatic track there is additional pressure that can be brought to bear on the pressure track.”
Cohen, who arrived in Israel on Sunday for talks on sanctions against Syria and terrorist financing, said Washington was consulting closely with Israel on the issue, Haaretz reported.
“We have today and over the past years had very close cooperation with the Israeli government across a range of our sanctions programmes. They are a very good partner. They are creative. They are supportive and we will continue to consult with the Israelis,” he said.
Cohen also discussed sanctions with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Sunday, a statement from the ministry said.
“We have reached a critical point in time that requires intensive and uncompromising action in the coming months,” Ayalon told him.
“Full implementation of the sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and the oil embargo must be assured by 1 July 2012,” he added.
The international community has been pursuing a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is for peaceful civilian energy and medical purposes but the international community believes hides a weapons drive.
Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, has warned that an Iranian nuclear capability would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.
It has consistently warned that all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from going nuclear, including a military strike.