Tel Aviv, March 6 (IANS) An Israeli cabinet minister Tuesday called on placing Iran under an air and sea blockade if it does not stop its presumed drive for nuclear arms.
"The time has come for the United States to place a clear ultimatum and deadline before Iran, and say that 'if Iran does not stop its drive for nuclear weapons by such and such a date, an air and sea blockade must be imposed'," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Tuesday in an interview with Israel Radio.
"We appreciate the cooperation between the US and us and the sanctions that have been imposed, but we expect to hear clearer statements," Xinhua quoted Steinitz as saying.
"Four years ago, United States President Barack Obama said 'all options are on the table,' and the time has come to change the text," according to Steinitz, who concluded that "we're close to the point of no return, and the US must stop Iran's nuclear weaponization for the sake of the entire world."
The remarks came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told some 13,000 pro-Israel supporters at the annual American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, that "Israel has waited for sanctions to work, and for diplomacy to work; None of us can afford to wait much longer."
On Sunday, Obama addressed the group and said that pressure on Iran included "all elements of American power: a political effort aimed at isolating Iran, a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored, an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency."
Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor said Tuesday that "the knowledge that the US has promised to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is an important message."
Meridor, however, also echoed Obama's remarks that the less said about any potential military strike on Iran, the better.
"Israel would be wise to keep silent in relation to Iran," he said, according to the radio.
"No one doubts that Israel has the abilities," Meridor said, noting that "the use of any and all strategies, including pointing out the military option, will increase pressure on Iran and make it clear to them that they have no choice but to give up their nuclear program."
Meridor, who is also Israel's deputy prime minister, added that "if more countries, like Russia and India, join in with countries now imposing sanctions, it would increase pressure on Iran."