Monday, February 8, 2010
Netanyahu makes every anti-Iran effort in Russia
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow to persuade the Kremlin into backing tougher sanctions against Iran days after media reports revealed that Tel Aviv has dispatched two warships to the Persian Gulf.
The three-day trip, planned weeks ago, will see Netanyahu making every effort in convincing Russian government officials to join the Western-led campaign for additional sanctions against Iran's enrichment activities.
One Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on conditions of anonymity that Netanyahu will have a hard time wooing the Russians, who are helping Iran build a nuclear reactor in the southern city of Bushehr and have so far appeared reluctant in imposing sanctions on the country.
This will be Netanyahu's first official visit to Moscow as Prime Minister. Earlier in September, he paid a secret trip to Russia which lasted less than 24 hours.
The visit comes amid a flurry of reports that two Israeli warships have passed through the Suez Canal on Thursday and are expected to reach Iran's southern waters in the Persian Gulf within the next four days.
Egyptian maritime sources leaked the details to Yediot Ahronot on Saturday, adding that Cairo has adopted tight security measures to ensure the safe passage of the Israeli ships through the canal.
Tel Aviv, which is reported to have an arsenal of 200 atomic warheads itself, accuses Iran of having the intention to develop nuclear weapons and routinely threatens to reduce the country's enrichment sites to rubble.
This is while Iran, unlike Israel, is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has opened its enrichment facilities to UN inspection.
A report released by the US Office of Naval Intelligence in December has confirmed that if Israel decides to bomb Tehran's nuclear sites, Iran's naval modernization and maritime capabilities have reached a point where it can seal off the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly 40 percent of the world's oil supplies pass.
"Given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran," said the intelligence report.
"[World economies would suffer] a serious economic impact from a sustain closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum supplies and (liquefied natural gas)," ONI said.