Israel says Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium shows the futility of diplomacy to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear weapon. VOA's Michael Bowman reports, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke on U.S. television.
Iran's president continues to insist he will not surrender his country's "nuclear rights". Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke as an informal deadline expired for Iran to halt its program to enrich uranium in return for international economic incentives and the suspension of further United Nations sanctions.
Speaking on CNN's Late Edition program, Israeli Foreign Minister Livni said the world must take note of Iran's responses to diplomatic initiatives.
"It is clear that Iran does not pay attention to talks," said Tzipi Livni. "And this is a clear message to the international community to continue with real and effective sanctions. And clearly Iran is a threat, not only to Israel. This is a global threat, and the international community should act accordingly."
Livni was asked if the time is drawing near for her country or other nations to consider direct intervention to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The Israeli foreign minister did not comment on possible military options, stressing instead the importance of continued international sanctions to pressure Tehran.
"I think that time is of the essence. Intensive sanctions can be effective. Iran is a threat to its neighbors, as well," she said. "And the international community is being watched, not only by Iran, but also by its neighbors. And when the international community shows hesitation, this is being perceived as weakness. And we live in a neighborhood where either you beat the bully or join it."
Iran continues to insist its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes - to generate energy for a growing population. In a recent interview, President Ahmadinejad suggested that nuclear weapons are a relic of the 20th century that his country has no interest in acquiring.
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