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Iran Sanctions Need to Go Further: Israeli Finance Minister

Matt Clinch, special to CNBC.com
Wednesday, 24 Oct 2012 | 5:19 AM ET

Sanctions against Iran, imposed by the U.S. and the European Union, are important and effective but more needs to be done, according to Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

Israel Fin Min: We Need to Wave a Bigger Stick at Iran
In an exclusive interview, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's Finance Minister tells CNBC that sanctions imposed on Iran are not sufficient and haven't changed the countries behavior and therefore a clear military ultimatum is needed.

"So far the Iranian people haven't changed their behavior and their determination to produce nuclear weapons," he told CNBC Wednesday.

"So you have to add something and that something is a very strong and valued military threat or a very clear ultimatum or deadline."

A ban on the supply of heavy weaponry and nuclear-related technology to Iran has been in place since 2006 but this year has seen a significant increase in sanctions. The EU placed a ban on the import, purchase and transport of Iranian oil on July 1. Further measures prohibiting transactions with Iranian banks were also introduced in October.

A plunge in the Iranian rial against the dollar has suggested that the sanctions are beginning to affect the country's economy and Iran has responded by saying that it would revert to a "plan B" and cease oil exports and survive without the revenue generated.

Steinitz remains adamant that the sanctions are currently not sufficient in stopping Iran's move to develop nuclear weapons.

"You have to choose a big enough stick and to wave it wildly enough in their face in order not to use it - the sanctions are a big stick but maybe not big enough yet," he said.

The subject of Iran was prominent in Monday night's U.S. Presidential debate. With both incumbent Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney highlighting the importance of Israel as America's greatest ally in the region and the threat posed by Iran.

"Their currency has dropped 80 percent. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest level since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their economy is in a shambles," President Barack Obama said.

"So the work that we've done with respect to sanctions now offers Iran a choice. They can take the diplomatic route and end their nuclear program or they will have to face a united world and a United States president, me, who said we're not going to take any options off the table."

Governor Mitt Romney promised he would tighten sanctions if he was elected president by not allowing ships carrying Iranian oil to dock in American ports.

"I'd take on diplomatic isolation efforts. I'd make sure that [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation. I would indict him for it," he said.

"Of course, military action is the last resort. It is something one would only consider if all of the other avenues had been tried to their full extent."

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