Iran sanctions boil down to Israeli efforts: Minister

JERUSALEM (AA) – A senior Israeli official said on Sunday that sanctions were imposed on Iran thanks to efforts made by the Israeli government.

"Israel's objective is to completely halt Iran's nuclear program, not partially suspend it," Intelligence Services Minister Yuval Steinitz was quoted by Israel Radio as saying.

"It is the duty of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to head to Washington and voice his opinion on Iran's nuclear program, despite the current differences with the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama," he added.

Steinitz did not, however, specify the efforts made by his country's government in this regard.

A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to give a speech before  the U.S. Congress in March, a decision that was criticized by the White House, which described it as a "departure from protocol."

In December of 2014, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced fresh sanctions on six Iranians, an Afghani national, and two companies over claims of backing Iran, transferring funds and supporting human rights violations.

The department said that the sanctions were not connected with ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, but an application of sanctions already in place.

Iran, for its part, described the sanctions as "completely political."

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the U.S., the U.K., China, France and Russia -- plus Germany, also known as the P5+1 group, believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and want Tehran to curb its nuclear program in return for lifting the sanctions.

Iran says, however, that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes.

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