Israel pushes EU to mount pressure on Iran over nuclear program

TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called on the European Union countries to take a more aggressive stance on Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“We need to exert pressure on them (Iranians),” Netanyahu said on Thursday during a meeting with EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

“It (Iran’s nuclear energy program) must stop and I think it is up to Europe to join the United States and Israel … in demanding a halt to Iran’s nuclear program,” he added.

The hawkish Israeli premier made a similar call earlier in the week while the rest of the world was amazed by the massive voter turnout in Iran’s presidential election on June 14. The world must not “be tempted to ease pressure on Iran,” he urged.

In May, Israeli President Shimon Peres said no “compromise” should be made with Iran in the course of the negotiations between Tehran and the P5+1 group of world powers — namely the US, Britain, Russia, France, and China plus Germany.

“Iran is near elections and the sanctions may be having an impact. The sanctions and pressure should be continued in the buildup to the Iranian elections,” he said at a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on another round of sanctions against Iran.

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The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Tehran strongly rejects the allegation over its nuclear energy activities, maintaining that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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