Netanyahu and EU envoy to Israel - Reuters - Oct. 16, 2012
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands with Andrew Standley (front R), the EU ambassador to Israel in Jerusalem, October 16, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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 Olivier Fitoussi
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset, October 15, 2012. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the European Union's move to impose new economic sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, adding, however, that the measures' efficiency will be gauged by their ability to halt Tehran's nuclear program.

On Monday, the EU agreed to further sanctions against Iran's banking, shipping, and industrial sectors on Monday in the hope of drawing it into serious negotiations on its nuclear program.

The EU decision reflected mounting concerns over Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at giving Iran the potential to build a nuclear bomb, and over Israeli threats to attack Iranian atomic installations if sanctions and diplomacy fail to lead to a peaceful solution.  

In a meeting with the EU envoy in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: "I commend the EU on the new sanctions against Iran that are hitting the Iranian economy hard," adding, however, that sanctions "still have not rolled back the nuclear program."

"We will know if the sanctions are achieving their goal if the centrifuges will stop spinning and the program is rolled back," the premier added.

Referring to the newly announced measures earlier in the day, Iran's Foreign Ministry said that the sanctions will not force Tehran back into negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program.

"We think the error in calculation which these countries are pursuing will distance them from a favorable result," ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference, adding: "We recommend that, instead of taking the wrong approach and being stubborn and using pressure, ... with a logical approach they can return to discussions."

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday that she hoped turning up the heat on the Islamic Republic would persuade it to make concessions and that negotiations could resume "very soon."

But Mehmanparast rejected that possibility, saying "illogical" and "inhumane" sanctions would only make Iran more determined in its stance. Iran insists it has the right to enrich uranium for power generation or medical purposes, and says its program has no military purpose.

"They don't know the spirit of the Iranian nation," Mehmanparast said. "These steps are mistakes and will have no results for them."