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Lower Chance that Israel Will Strike Iran, Predicts Minister

Senior Israeli Cabinet Minister says that Canada and Europe's latest moves against Iran have reduced the possibility of an Israeli strike.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/10/2012, 6:46 AM

IRAN
IRAN
AFP agency

The chances that Israel will soon strike Iran’s nuclear facilities have gone down significantly, a senior Israeli Cabinet Minister told Channel 2 News on Sunday night.

The Minister, whose identity was not disclosed, said that the increasing isolation of Iran in the international community has reduced the chances that Israel would go at it alone and strike Iran.

That move to isolate Iran, he said, was reflected by Canada’s announcement on Friday that it would cut off diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

He added that the fact that a strike in Iran is a drastic move that is not considered legitimate by the United States, the international community and Europe, as well as a large chunk of the Israeli public, would make it very difficult to materialize.

Channel 2 reported that the position presented by the Minister is also shared by other members of the Cabinet, particularly in light of the European pressure on Israel to hold off on striking Iran.

On Friday, it was reported that several European Union nations are exploring a new raft of sanctions against Iran as exasperation mounts over blocked talks on the country's contested nuclear program.

"We might have to decide soon a new round of sanctions in the European Union," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said during informal talks in Cyprus with his 26 EU counterparts.

He added, “I see a growing consensus between my colleagues. We will not accept a nuclear weapon for Iran.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said all foreign ministers who spoke on the issue at the talks favored fresh punitive measures against Iran and that work to agree financial, trade and oil sanctions would begin "in the coming days."

The last round of EU sanctions, a damaging oil embargo, came into effect on July 1, adding to U.S. financial sanctions aimed at shutting off Iran's oil exports, which account for half of government revenues.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Friday said that EU sanctions were having "a serious impact" and that "it is necessary to increase the pressure on Iran, to intensify sanctions, to add further to the EU sanctions."

The Minister who spoke to Channel 2 said that military action by Israel would only interfere with the European sanctions and not allow them to bear fruit.

Westerwelle was in Israel on Sunday, where he said that a nuclear-armed Iran was "not an option" and called on Tehran to hold "substantial negotiations" over its nuclear program.

"We share the Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear program," Westerwelle said at the beginning of a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem.

"A nuclear-armed Iran would not only pose a threat to Israel but to the stability of the entire region. A nuclear-armed Iran is not an option," he said.

Reports last week indicated that preparations are currently underway for a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama after Yom Kippur, when Netanyahu arrives in the U.S. to speak at the United Nations General Assembly.

It is believed that during the meeting, Obama will explain to Netanyahu his “red lines” regarding Iran, in hopes that this will lead to Israel agreeing to postpone an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, for a period of several months to half a year.