Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly planning to travel to Europe to shore up support for more harsher sanctions against Iran as EU Foreign Ministers are scheduled to meet later this month to consider such measures.
According to Israeli press reports, although the Prime Minister’s plans for a European trip have not yet been finalized, the new strategy was to focus on Europe out of concern that the impending US presidential elections made any new action from Washington less likely.
Netanyahu is expected to meet with leaders in France and Germany and urge them to impose an extensive and total commercial boycott, Maariv daily newspaper said.
The proposed boycott would reportedly include complete isolation of the Iranian banking system and a total ban on sale of basic products to Iran.
Israeli officials reportedly believe that such measures would be the only way to sway Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapons, for fear of a popular uprising against the regime.
Many businessmen and ordinary citizens in Iran blame the government for the currency crisis, and Ahmadinejad has been criticized for it by political enemies in parliament.
Iran's economy has been hit hard this year by Western economic sanctions. The sanctions have slashed Iran's oil exports and mostly excluded it from the global banking system.
The Iranian currency, the rial, has lost about a third of its value since Monday last week, when the government launched an "exchange center" that was designed to stabilize the currency by supplying US dollars to importers. The move appears to have backfired.
Iranians have responded by scrambling to change their rial savings into hard currency, fueling the slide.
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Israel Radio on Tuesday that although the current international sanctions were affecting Iran's economy, its nuclear progress had not slowed, proving that overall, sanctions were ineffective.
Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly last week that Iran will likely have to be stopped by next summer, by when it would have amassed enough 20-percent enriched uranium for a bomb. He has said he does not rule out a military strike.
The 27 EU Foreign Ministers are scheduled to meet on October 15 in Luxembourg to discuss a new round of more stringent sanctions against Iran.
Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy have reportedly put forward recommendations for stiffening the sanctions regime.
In a joint letter sent recently to their EU colleagues, French and German Foreign Ministers, Laurent Fabius and Guido Westerwelle wrote :"We must let Iran know that we have not exhausted our options. »
But the discussion among EU member states over sanctions appears to be “difficult” because of the consequences of the measures are for the European economy.
According to the Financial Times, the new sanctions would affect four economic areas. First, the EU would impose further restrictions on financial transactions with Iranian banks. Second, ban the import of goods that Iran can use for its nuclear program. Third, a so-called big push by the EU to enforce the oil embargo and prevent Iran from using any oil revenue to fund nuclear development. And fourth, look at ways to prevent Iran from dodging restrictions on its shipping operations.
The sanctions issue will come up later this month when the Italian cabinet, including Prime Minister Mario Monti, comes to Israel for an annual government-to-government meeting.
Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to lead his cabinet to Germany in December for a similar meeting with the Merkel cabinet.
Three rounds of talks since April between the world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France – and Iran have led nowhere.