Jerusalem, Jan. 11 – As the European Union prepares impose an embargo on Iranian oil, American officials said that tough sanctions and the will to use force might get the Iranian people to rise up and demand their government halt its nuclear development program.
One of the goals of strict economic sanctions is to cause “discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
Israeli army chief Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said 2012 is "the critical year that connects between the continuation of Iran’snuclearization, the internal changes in the Iranian leadership, continued pressure from the international community and the things that happen to them unnaturally." Gantz was referring to several mysterious blasts that rocked Iranian defense facilities in 2011, and Wednesday’s killing of a leading Iranian nuclear scientist.
Professor Ahmadi Roshan, 32, was a deputy director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. He was killed by a bomb placed in a car in Tehran, the Iranian Fars News Agency reported. The blast occurred exactly two years after another Iranian nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, was killed in a similar attack in Tehran in January 2010.
The American president’s former advisor on Iran and former Middle East peace negotiator, Dennis Ross, warned that President Barack Obama would not hesitate to use force to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
“Force is not inevitable,” he said. “Diplomacy is still the desired means. Pressure is an element of the means,” Ross told Bloomberg News.
For many years Israel has been saying that the Iranian leadership must believe that the threat of international military action against them is serious. In 2010 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden “The only way to ensure that Iran is not armed with nuclear weapons is to create a credible threat of military action against it, unless it stops its race to obtain nuclear weapons.”
The Washington Post called editorially Wednesday for the U.S. to intensify sanctions on Iran, noting that “Iran could have enough of the 20 percent [weapons grade uranium] material by the end of this year to produce a bomb core very rapidly — perhaps even between visits of U.N. inspectors.”
Despite recent statements from Iranian leaders that they were willing to resume negotiations on their nuclear program, Western diplomats tend to see such initiatives as attempts by Iran to buy time for its nuclear program, without heeding U.N. demands to curb activity that could be put to making atomic bombs, the Ha’aretz newspaper reported.
The European Union advanced the scheduled January 31 meeting of foreign ministers to be held in Brussels by a week to January 23. Ministers are expected to approve a European embargo on Iranian crude oil imports,the Itar-Tass news agency reported.