Yaalon Slams Obama's Reticent Iran Stance

Are the Obama administration's "election-year considerations" blocking tough US action on Iran?

Gabe Kahn. ,

Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon
Flash 90

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday voiced concern saying "election-year considerations" lay behind the Obama administration's reticence to impose the tough Iran sanctions sought by US legislators.

"In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-one, to impose these sanctions, and in the US administration there is hesitation for fear of oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations," Yaalon told Israel Radio.

While officials in Washington have been talking tough about Iran's nuclear ambitions and threat to block the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, US sanctions adopted on December 31 allow President Barak Obama leeway on the scope of penalties on the Iranian central bank and oil exports.

Yaalon contrasted Obama's posture to that of France and Britain, which he said "are taking a very firm stand and understand sanctions must be imposed immediately."

British foreign secretary William Hague on Monday told reporters European Union foreign ministers were hammering out the details of a comprehensive set of sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry ahead of a January 23 meeting.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said Iran's economy is "wobbling" and that a stringent set of sanctions should be imposed on Iran's oil industry to frustrate what Israel sees as Tehran's drive for a nuclear bomb.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, but the International Atomic Energy Association says Iran has sought - and continues to seek - nuclear technology of a military nature.

Gulf Arabs and Western states share Israel's fears Iran is seeking an atomic bomb - with officials in Saudi Arabia saying, should Tehran obtain nuclear weapons, they to will follow suit.

While Western officials are primarily concerned with averting a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Israel's concerns are more existential in nature. Iranian officials have described Israel as "a one bomb state."