Israel backs U.S. sanctions on Iran

JERUSALEM — Israeli officials say they will support President Obama’s move to impose sanctions on Iran as a next step in the standoff over the country’s nuclear program, though the narrower measures being considered by the White House may fall short of the “crippling” restrictions advocated here.

With the United States’ year-end deadline expiring for Iran to resolve the issue, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is “focused on working with the international community to upgrade the pressure on Iran in a way that makes the Iranian regime know that its nuclear program is unacceptable, that they are going to pay a price that will make them rethink,” said Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev. Obama “has been successful in galvanizing an international coalition that many people were cynical about. We are on the same page.”

The endorsement is an important one from a country that is considered the most likely to launch a military strike to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust and anti-Israeli rhetoric have led Netanyahu to compare the current era to the years preceding World War II, and Israeli officials have said all options are open in preparing for what some regard as an “existential” threat.

Obama’s decision to engage Iran diplomatically was viewed skeptically at first by Israelis who worried it would lead to the same end as other diplomatic overtures — years of talks and ineffect…

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