JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the European Union on Tuesday for ramping up sanctions against Iran, saying such measures were having a strong impact on the Iranian economy.
“I want to commend the EU for the tough sanctions that were adopted yesterday against the greatest threat to peace in our time,” Netanyahu said in an address to EU diplomats.
“These sanctions are hitting the Iranian economy hard,” he added. “We’ll know they are achieving their goal when the centrifuges stop spinning and when the Iranian nuclear program is rolled back.”
EU governments agreed on Monday to further sanctions against major Iranian state companies in the oil and gas industry, and strengthened restrictions on the central bank.
Andrew Standley, the EU ambassador to Israel, said in public remarks at the meeting with Netanyahu that “Iran’s nuclear program is a concern not only to Israel but also to the region and the wider international community”.
Iran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes only. Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear power, believes Tehran intends to build atomic weapons and has consistently urged the West to ramp up sanctions.
Western countries have rejected Netanyahu’s demand to set a red line for Iran’s nuclear program that could trigger military action against it.
Amid concern in the West that Israel could strike on its own, Netanyahu signaled at the United Nations last month there was more time for diplomacy, saying Iran would be on the brink of nuclear weapons capability only next spring or summer.
Reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Writing by Jeffrey Heller