JERUSALEM, Sept 27 International sanctions
against Tehran have caused more damage to the Iranian economy
than initially thought, according to an Israeli foreign ministry
document leaked to Haaretz newspaper on Thursday.
Details of the internal report were published on the same
day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to
address the United Nations to push his case for tougher action
to halt Iran's contested nuclear programme.
An Israeli official, who declined to be named, confirmed the
contents of the document, but said there was no sign the
economic sanctions were persuading the Iranian leaders to change
their nuclear policy.
The document pointed to a more than 50 percent decline in
the volume of Iranian oil exports over the past year and a slump
in the value of the local currency. It said that ordinary
Iranians were suffering as a result of soaring inflation.
"There are indications that the average citizen is actually
blaming Iranian leadership for the situation and not the West,
which has imposed the sanctions," Haaretz quoted an unnamed
foreign ministry official as saying.
Netanyahu has said on a number of occasions this year that
although sanctions were taking their toll on Iran, they were not
yet forcing any policy re-think.
Traders in Europe said on Thursday that Iran's state grains
agency GTC has discreetly snapped up around 1 million tonnes of
milling wheat in the past two weeks mostly from the European
While the sanctions do not target food shipments, they make
it difficult for importers to obtain letters of credit or
conduct international transfers of funds through banks.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Dan
Meridor reiterated that more pressure had to be brought to bear.
"The sanctions have not yet succeeded in getting (Iranian
leaders) down from their attempt to get ambitious nuclear
capabilities ... We need to continue, strengthen and intensify
the economic, diplomatic and other sanctions," he said.
"If they want to survive as a regime and (remove) the
sanctions, they need to step down from their nuclear project,"
he added, speaking in English.
Iran has denied accusations that it is trying to develop an
atomic bomb and says its programme is for peaceful purposes.
Netanyahu will set out later on Thursday an ultimatum for
Iran to halt its disputed nuclear drive or risk coming under
military attack, an Israeli official has said.