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Israel Calls for Tougher Sanctions on Iran

Israel is calling for a tough international response to a U.N. report Thursday that concluded Iran has not complied with demands to stop its uranium enrichment program. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Israel believes time is running out to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Israeli officials say Iran should be punished with much tougher sanctions now that it is clearly defying the international community. Israel made the appeal after the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report saying that Iran had not complied with a U.N. resolution to halt uranium enrichment activities.

Danny Ayalon, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, says the international community must send Iran a tough message.

"That there is a price for them to pay if they continue in this path of belligerence, of intransigence," he said. "And if they do not comply, I think there is a path to continue and rachet up the pressure, all the way if we need to."

But that is easier said than done. Israeli officials are concerned over what they see as the slow pace of international action, which they say is allowing Iran to stall and continue to advance toward a nuclear weapon.

Israel has expressed growing alarm about Iran's nuclear program for over a year since the Iranian president threatened to wipe the Jewish state off the map. Israel has repeatedly warned that it will not allow Iran to acquire the atom bomb.

"A nuclear Iran is unacceptable, is intolerable, and it should not be," he said.

Israel sees Iran as an existential threat. So, senior officials have hinted that if the international community fails to act decisively, Israel might take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities. It could be more than a bluff: the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.