Israel urges tougher sanctions on Iran

JERUSALEM — Israel called Thursday for a toughening of sanctions on its archfoe Iran, and urged private companies around the world to stop doing business with the Islamic republic.

The statements came as mystery continued to shroud an apparent Israeli airstrike, a week ago, inside the territory of another foe, Syria, which reports say was aimed at weapons financed by Tehran.

“The sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council are not sufficient,” Israeli foreign minister Tzippi Livni told public radio. “They have to be toughened and made more efficient by involving the private sector.

“The private sector should stop doing business with Iran, even if this goes against its interests, as the world cannot accept a country like Iran getting access to nuclear arms.

“Time is playing against us, the world cannot allow itself to wait,” she said.

Israel, widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole-if-undeclared nuclear power, fears that Iran is developing atomic weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear program, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

Ahmadinejad said in an interview with British television Wednesday that Iran did not want the bomb.

“We are against bombs, actually,” he said through a translator. “From a political point of view, it’s not useful … Why do we want a bomb … What’s the use of it? We don’t need it.”

Israel considers the Islamic republic its archfoe, in the wake of repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map.

The United Nations has slapped two sets of sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, and is debating imposing a third.

Israel has remained silent over Syrian allegations that its warplanes penetrated deep inside the country and dropped ammunition a week ago.

Media reports have speculated that Israel may have bombed weapons financed by Iran, and potentially aimed for Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah militia, with which Israel fought a devastating war last year.