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WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, a senior U.S. official said 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 yesterday to reporters, ahead of the arrival of U.S. armed forces chief General Martin Dempsey to Israel, a senior State Department official rejected the Jerusalem'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 Washington is working to avoid a sudden jump in oil prices, so sanctions must be imposed gradually.

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

 

Meanwhile Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that Israel was "very far off" from a decision about an attack on Iran over its nuclear program. Barak was speaking on Army Radio ahead of a planned visit this week by General Dempsey that has triggered speculation Washington would press Israel to delay any action against Tehran's nuclear program.