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Merkel Calls For More Sanctions Against Iran

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)
BERLIN (Reuters) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany will be preparing possible further sanctions against Iran in the weeks ahead if there is no change in Tehran's stance on its disputed nuclear energy program.

Six world powers, including Germany, met on January 16 in New York to discuss prospects of imposing further sanctions against Iran over a nuclear program they suspect the Islamic Republic might use to obtain nuclear weapons.

"Germany has made clear that if Iran's reaction does not change, we will be working on a comprehensive package of sanctions," Merkel said at a joint news conference in Berlin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Of course we would prefer it if these [sanctions] could be agreed within the framework of the United Nations Security Council," she said, adding that officials would be working on sanctions in the coming weeks.

"But Germany will take part in sanctions with other countries that are pursuing the same goal," she said.

Netanyahu went even further, saying the time had come to apply "crippling sanctions" against Iran over its nuclear program.

"If we don't apply sanctions, crippling sanctions against this Iranian tyranny, when shall we apply them? If not now, when? The answer is now," he said.

Tehran says its nuclear work is aimed only at generating electricity for civilian purposes.

Israel, assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, sees Iran's project as a threat to its existence, citing hostile rhetoric against the Jewish state by Iranian leaders.

It has not ruled out using force if diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions fail to stop Iran's nuclear development plans.