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Israel defense minister calls for tighter Iran sanctions

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 18, 2012 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said sanctions would force Iran to come to the negotiating table.
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said sanctions would force Iran to come to the negotiating table.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • On a visit to Japan, Ehud Barak calls for more punitive measures against Iran
  • The United States and Europe have recently bolstered sanctions
  • Tensions between Israel and its arch foe have escalated in recent weeks
  • Iran says its nuclear is strictly for civilian purposes

Tokyo (CNN) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Saturday for even tougher sanctions on Iran to force the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

"I think there is consensus now in most of the capitals of the world that Iran should not be allowed to turn into a military nuclear power," Barak told reporters in Tokyo.

"There is a consensus at least in the West and North America that no option should be removed off the table in regard to dealing with the threat. We feel the same," he said. "We feel it is still a time for even more tight, ratcheted up sanctions against Iran."

He added that accelerating the pace of sanctions would force Iran to consider the consequences of isolation and come to the negotiating table.

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Barak spoke after meetings with Prime Minister Noda and other Japanese officials.

The United States and the European Union bolstered sanctions against Iran after a November report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said Iran could be developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has insisted its program is strictly for civilian energy purposes.

Tensions have spiked in recent days with speculation of a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran to stop its nuclear progress.

Israel has also blamed Tehran for the attacks on Israeli targets in India, Georgia and Thailand.

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