Critics: EU Sanctions on Iran Too Little, Too Late

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Tensions are rising in the Middle East Thursday as Iran threatens to stop oil exports to Europe.

The news follows the European Union's announcement of new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said even tougher sanctions are needed to stop the Islamic Republic.

Tuesday, EU representative Catherine Ashton met with Barak in Tel Aviv to discuss the matter.

"The purpose of those sanctions, as you know well, is to persuade Iran to come back to the table," Ashton told Israel's defense minister.

"I strongly believe that these are steps in the right direction," Barak said. "That will ratchet (up) the pressure on the Iranians."

"Much more than this might be needed before we see the Iranians turning back from their nuclear military programs," he added.

Barak's comments reflect the feeling of some Israeli leaders and analysts that the sanctions might still be too little and too late.

"The big problem with these sanctions that are being spoken about is that they're not for immediate implementation," said Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The European Union, for example, has a serious internal problem," he told CBN News. "The Greeks feel since their economy is sort of on the verge of collapse, they can't afford to do this, and the Spanish and the Italians are right behind them."

The EU sanctions are scheduled to start in July, but time might be running out. Mickey Segal, a former director of the Israeli military's Iranian intelligence department, said Iran's nuclear program may have already reached the point of no return.

"The sanctions from themselves can't stop Iran from getting the bomb," he told CBN News.

Segal said that even though the Iranian economy is starting to feel the impact of the sanctions, Iran won't stop its nuclear work.

"I think it's going to make them more resolved and more defiant and maybe they will even try to rush forward - if they can of course - to complete this project; to complete this nuclear bomb," Segal said.

Gold said Western powers should stop dragging their feet and implement sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"If the Western alliance will meet, come together and decide on immediate implementation of sanctions, it is possible to change the calculus in Tehran," he said.

"But the more people come up with compromises and excuses and they're worried about the Western economies, in an election year in particular, then Iran is going to turn around third base and head for home plate," Gold said.

"And they may be a nuclear power as Secretary of Defense Panetta suggested by the end of this year," he warned.

In the meantime, the confrontation continues over the Strait of Hormuz.

Despite a second Iranian threat to close the strategic waterway, the U.S. sent in a second aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf, along with two British and French warships.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Thursday that his country is ready for new nuclear talks with the West.

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