Finance minister says sanctions alone aren’t a “big enough stick,” must be combined with strong military threat or clear ultimatum.
American- and European-imposed sanctions against Iran are effective and important, but alone they are not “a big enough stick,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz warned on Wednesday.
In an interview with CNBC, Steinitz said that he did not envy the Iranian finance minister, but emphasized that sanctions had not changed Iran’s behavior or dampened its determination to produce nuclear weapons.
“You have to add something, and that something is a very strong and valid military threat, or a very clear ultimatum or deadline,” Steinitz said.
“You have to choose a big enough stick, and to wave it wildly enough in their face in order not to use it. The sanctions are a big stick, but maybe not big enough yet.”
Steinitz said he was encouraged by US President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s statements during Monday night’s final presidential election debate that they would consider all options to prevent Iran from going nuclear.
The EU tightened sanctions against Iran last week, prohibiting all transactions between European and Iranian banks “unless authorized in advance under strict conditions with exemptions for humanitarian needs.”
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer also spoke to CNBC earlier this week, telling the American business news network that while the Iranian economy would continue to suffer from sanctions, the regime would “find a way to continue to keep economic life going.”
Last month, Steinitz told Israel Radio that Iran’s economy was edging toward collapse due to international sanctions.
“The sanctions on Iran jumped a level in the past year,” Steinitz said at the time.
“It is not collapsing, but it is on the verge of collapse. The loss of income from oil is approaching $45 billion-$50b. by the year’s end.”
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