Israel to impose sanctions on Iran

Ahram online and AFP, Thursday 3 Mar 2011

Israel drafts a law targeting Iranian and foreign companies which violate UN Security Council resolutions despite itself being in violation of international law

After years of calling for tough action against Iran, Israel is getting around to joining international sanctions against Tehran, officials said on Thursday.

The foreign ministry is preparing legislation that would see Israel adopt laws targeting companies that violate international sanctions, ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told AFP.

"It turns out there is a lacuna in Israeli legislation concerning Iran," Palmor said. "There seems to be a gap between policy and legislation, and this would bring the legislation up to date." Israel has repeatedly called for tougher international steps against its bitter enemy Iran.

The United Nations imposed a fourth found of sanctions against Iran in June 2010, after Iran refused to halt uranium enrichment work, the most sensitive part of its nuclear programme.

Israel, the United States and others suspect the programme is aimed at producing weapons. Tehran denies the allegations, insisting it is only seeking to meet the energy needs of its population.

In part, Israel has been slow in adopting the sanctions because no Israeli companies trade with Iran. Israeli media however said the legislation would target companies that deal with both Iran and Israel.

The initiative was proposed by hardliner Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Maariv daily reported. A team of Israeli experts looked into the issue and discovered "the state of Israel lacks adequate legal tools to promote extensive economic sanctions on Iran" Maariv said, quoting from the expert report.

Palmor declined to give details of the proposed legislation, only saying it would "put us in line with international efforts like those adopted by the US, the EU and the international resolutions."

Israel is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment recognises Israel as a country reported as being in possession of undeclared chemical warfare capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare program. Officially, Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons.

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