Iran Navy
Iranian naval vessels near the Strait of Hormuz, Jan. 3, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that Iran sanctions are effective, contrasting a recent statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the current sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic are insufficient to curb its nuclear program.

In a briefing to reporters on Wednesday morning, ahead of the arrival of U.S. military chief Martin Dempsey to Israel, a senior State Department official rejected the Israeli government's assessment that the sanctions on Iran are not working.

The State Department official maintained that sanctions on Iran must be gradual, and clarified that the U.S. administration has a clear plan and deadlines for the implementation of unprecedented sanctions, including on Iran's central bank.

She stressed that the U.S. is working to avoid a sudden jump in oil prices, thus sanctions must be imposed gradually.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the U.S. military is fully prepared to deal with any threats by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, adding that no "special steps" were being taken at this point to bolster American forces in the region.

Asked at a Pentagon news briefing whether Iran's threats had prompted a repositioning of U.S. forces in the region, Panetta said: "We are not [taking] any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation."

"Why? Because frankly we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now," Panetta said.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said that the current Iran sanctions are ineffective and said that unless further sanctions would be imposed on its central bank and oil industry, Iran's nuclear program will not be stopped.

 

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on that Israel was "very far off" from a decision about an attack on Iran over its nuclear program.

Barak was speaking on Israel's Army Radio ahead of a planned visit this week by U.S. armed forces chief General Martin Dempsey that has triggered speculation Washington would press Israel to delay any action against Tehran's nuclear program.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that Israel was "very far off" from a decision about an attack on Iran over its nuclear program.

Barak was speaking on Israel's Army Radio ahead of a planned visit this week by U.S. armed forces chief General Martin Dempsey that has triggered speculation Washington would press Israel to delay any action against Tehran's nuclear program.

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