Israel calls for tougher sanctions on Iran


Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak today called on world powers to strengthen economic sanctions on Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.

In a related development, The Associated Press said unnamed diplomats posted to the International Atomic Energy Agency claimed Iran was preparing a significant expansion of uranium enrichment efforts at a fortified underground bunker with “thousands of new-generation centrifuges.”

The source of the information was obscure and the AP did not say how the unnamed diplomats had learned it. Diplomats posted to the IAEA have in the past complained that US intelligence on Iranian activities has been bogus. However general consensus appears to exist that Iran is working toward the development of nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons capability.

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"We have to accelerate the pace of imposing sanctions and make them crippling and consequential to such an extent that the leadership … will be compelled to sit down and … ask themselves 'are we ready to pay the price of isolation from most, if not all, of the world?'" Barak was quoted as saying in Japan.

Since the end of December, international sanctions imposed on Iran have grown markedly more severe, with a European oil embargo announced as well as increasing measures taken to isolate Iranian banks and deny Iran foreign investment.

Barak was quoted as saying that despite the sanctions he was unconvinced that Tehran was ready to abandon efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

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According to the AP, electrical circuitry, piping and other equipment had been installed at the Fordo underground facility but the unnamed diplomats emphasized that Tehran had not started installing the new centrifuges and could not say whether Iran was planning to do so. IAEA inspectors are scheduled to visit Tehran on Sunday, their second trip this month, but such visits are not expected to produce significant results.

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