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Netanyahu: Iran Sanctions 'Not Working'

Frustration with Iran is boiling over in Jerusalem amid this week's terror attacks targeting Israel's diplomats in Asia.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/16/2012, 6:53 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday said sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community "are not working."

"Iran is the most irresponsible force in the world. I hope the sanctions will have an effect, but so far they have not," Netanyahu said while on a state visit to Nicosia in Cyprus.

"We are dealing with a regime that violates every resolution and has no respect for international standards," the Israeli premier said. "Iran's race towards nuclear weapons should concern the US and every other country."

"Nuclear arms in the hands of such a regime is a cause for great concern to the US and Israel," he added.

Netanyahu's remarks came on the same day that Israel's envoy to the United Nations filed a complaint with UN chief Ban Ki-moon over what he described as an Iranian 'terror campaign' targeting Israeli diplomats.

The wife of Israel's defense attaché in Delhi was seriously wounded in a car bombing on Monday, while authorities in Georgia disarmed a bomb on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in the capital of Tbilisi.

Three Iranian nationals were arrested in Thailand and Malaysia following a botched bombing targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok; while Kuwait's al-Jarida reported the Mossad intelligence agency and authorities in Singapore thwarted an attack targeting Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday. Authorities in Singapore, however, denied the report saying "it never happened."

Netanyahu on Wednesday said the attacks unmasked Iran and showed the world its "true face."

"Iran is undermining the world's stability and harms innocent diplomats," Netanyahu said. “World countries must condemn Iran's terror acts and draw a red line."

Analysts say Netanyahu's statements in Nicosia underscore Jerusalem's growing frustration with the administration of United States President Barack Obama's go-slow sanctions approach to stopping Iran's nuclear program. Previously, Netnayahu has publicly supported sanctions while privately expressing reservations.

After a high-profile row in the media between Israeli and US officials over how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions in recent weeks, Netanyahu and Obama sought to downplay divisions and show a united front.

Early last week, Netanyahu chastised senior officials for talking openly about a potential Iran strike saying it undermined the sanctions effort. His remarks were regarded as being largely seen as public check of comments by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who told reporters Iran is "entering the immunity zone" and that time for a military strike was "running out."

However, last Friday officials in the Obama administration took the unusual step of siding with Tehran in accusing Israel of funding and training assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists by the People's Mujahadeen of Iran.

The move came on the heels of senior US officials not only revealing a secret visit by Mossad chief Tamir Pardo to discuss a potential strike on Iran, but US Defense Secretary publicly outlining Israel's likely timetable for such a strike.

Israel, the United States, its Western allies and Gulf Arab nations believe Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

However, the International Atomic Energy Association published a report in late 2011 citing credible Western intelligence sources, saying Iran had sought - and continued to seek - nuclear technology of a military nature.

It also characterized Iran's refusal to allow IAEA inspectors access to its nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Tehran is a signatory, as a sign of bad faith that led them to believe Iran was hiding the true nature of its nuclear research.

Israel regards a nuclear weapon in Iran's hands as a potential existential threat, noting Iranian officials have made repeated calls for the Jewish state's destruction while calling Israel a "one bomb state."

On the other hand, while Washington regards Iran as a pariah state who should not join the so-called "nuclear club" of states possessing atomic weapons, it does not share Israel's level of risk should Iran succeed.

Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs, Moshe Yaalon, openly said in January that Obama is more concerned with avoiding a potential spike in oil prices stemming from an attack during his re-election campaign than he is the strategic implications of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

But Netanyahu isn't beholden to Obama's election worries and has a growing "Iran problem" of his own to deal with in order to both protect and satisfy his own public – and he's made it clear he “will not preside over a second Holocaust.”