Netanyahu: Iran Sanctions Won't Necessarily Halt Its Nuclear Program

PM urges international community to continue imposing sanctions on Tehran, but says he is unsure whether the move will foil Iran's attempts to develop its nuclear program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is working to increase international pressure on Iran, but said that thus far, sanctions were unsuccessful in halting Tehran's nuclear program.

"We are working to increase the international pressure on Iran," Netanyahu said while speaking before the Knesset. "Even though Iran has not halted its nuclear program, and we do not know whether the sanctions will be effective, this is definitely the right step."

Benjamin Netanyahu - Olivier Fitoussi - 28.12.2011
Olivier Fitoussi

Netanyahu said that he has spoken to French President Nicolas Sarkozy after the European Union decided to impose a wide-reaching oil embargo on Iran, and praised him for his leadership on the difficult decision. He said he also spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron and thanked him for his part as well.

"I thank them for undertaking this international effort," he said.

"I praised China for decreasing its oil imports from Iran," he said. "I also spoke to the Indian Foreign Minister on the same issue. I hope other countries such as South Korea and Japan will follow this lead."

Netanyahu said that he does not know whether sanctions can determine the fate of Iran's nuclear program, but said they can definitely make a difference.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.

Iran, responding to the recent oil embargo imposed on it by the EU, warned it would have 'serious consequences.'

"Iran condemns this EU move as illogical and unjustifiable and believes it will have serious consequences for Europeans," the Foreign Ministry said in its first official statement after Monday's sanctions. It did not clarify what the consequences would be.