Ahmadinejad - AFP - February 2012
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a tour of Tehran’s research reactor yesterday. Photo by AFP
Text size

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda warned Defense Minister Ehud Barak when the two met yesterday in Tokyo against a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. According to senior Japanese Foreign Ministry officials, the Japanese premier told Barak Israeli military action against Iran would be highly dangerous and result in a serious escalation in the region.

Noda told the Israeli defense minister that the attacks directed at Israeli diplomatic missions in New Delhi and in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, were unacceptable, but he added that Israel should exercise restraint at this time. For his part, Barak said the attacks were carried out at Iran's direction and this reflects the dangerous nature of Iran and its responsibility in undermining the world order.

The Obama administration is pressuring the European Union and a global electronic banking system to expel Iranian banks from the network - another step in Western efforts to deprive Tehran of funds needed to develop nuclear weapons.

Kicking Iranian banks out of the Belgium-based SWIFT, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, would cut off one of the only remaining avenues for Iran to do business with the rest of the world.

SWIFT facilitates the bulk of the world's cross-border payments, exchanging 18 million payment messages per day between banks and other financial institutions.

The United States and Europe have already slapped sanctions on Iran's central bank, the main clearinghouse for the country's oil revenues, which would punish Tehran's trading partners if they continue to buy Iranian oil.