Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Israel PM calls for naval blockade of Iran

Israel PM calls for naval blockade of Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has urged the United States to impose a naval blockade on Iran to pressure it to stop its controversial nuclear programme, the Haaretz daily reported on Wednesday.

Olmert raised the issue during a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the newspaper said.

"The present economic sanctions on Iran have exhausted themselves," Olmert was quoted as telling the California Democrat.

Asked about the report, Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev would say only: "We do not confirm this information."

Rafi Eitan, a member of Olmert's security cabinet, said he also favoured air travel restrictions against Iran.

"A blockade of maritime and air routes against Iran is a good possibility," Eitan, the minister in charge of pensioners' affairs, told public radio.

"There are voices we hear in Washington that indicate the military option remains open," he added.

Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, suspects, like Washington, that Tehran's nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop an atomic bomb, something Iran strongly denies.

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