Netanyahu Welcomes Tightening of U.S. Sanctions on Iran

August 1, 2013  

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives’ decision to tighten sanctions on Iran.

“Following the Iranian elections the House of Representatives has sent a clear message to the Iranian regime that international pressure will increase until Iran meets its obligations and ceases its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“We will judge Iran by its actions alone,” he said.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives, with overwhelming bipartisan support, passed a bill 400 to 20 tightening U.S. sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector.

The measure would subject more goods and services to sanctions, in addition to authorizing the president to impose penalties on foreign entities that maintain commercial ties with Iran.

The bill, H.R. 850, intends to clamp down on resources that could be used by the Islamic republic to further its nuclear weapons capabilities, such as access to foreign-currency markets.

The vote came days before Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani begins his term. Rouhani, who has been described as a “moderate”, was elected June 14 in a surprise victory after pledging to ease Iran’s economic and political isolation.

Rouhani stressed soon after his election that Tehran would not consider halting the country’s uranium enrichment activities entirely.

Israel has warned that Rouhani may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would take advantage of any relief on sanctions to continue his country’s nuclear program.

International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview last week that Rouhani had “cheated” the West when he led negotiations over the nuclear program a decade ago.

“He [Rouhani] is cunning, he’s charming and he will smile all the way to the bomb unless the Western world will do everything necessary to stop him,” warned Steinitz.

The West, he added, should send Iran a “clear message” by stating: “You want to save the Iranian economy? Give up the nuclear project. You want to continue the nuclear project? You will destroy the Iranian economy and even expose yourself to potential possible military attack. There is no third way, nothing in between. No middle way.”

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