Conflicting Strategies to Stop Iran

As Sanctions Bite, Israel and U.S. Eye One Another Warily

Foes in Deed: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strikes a pose during visit to Ecuador, but analysts say sanctions are biting. Israel and the U.S. broadly agree over anti-Iran strategy but disagree over some tactics used against the Islamic republic.
getty images
Foes in Deed: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strikes a pose during visit to Ecuador, but analysts say sanctions are biting. Israel and the U.S. broadly agree over anti-Iran strategy but disagree over some tactics used against the Islamic republic.

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 19, 2012, issue of January 27, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

As the United States moves toward the final stage of imposing sanctions against Iran’s central bank and oil industry, American officials are trying to erase Israeli suspicion about the effectiveness of economic pressure and to ensure that Jerusalem and Washington are fully coordinated in dealing with Iran’s nuclear threat.

A recent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, which has been attributed to Israel by multiple sources (including Western intelligence, according to Time magazine), has tested this coordination and has made clear that despite a broad agreement between the United States and Israel, there are still areas of tactical difference.

The United States, now ratcheting up sanctions to a level seen as devastating to the Islamic Republic’s economy, is opposed to any unilateral Israeli action that could destabilize the region and put at risk the international drive to tighten the screws on Iran.

“We’ve heard from Iran that sanctions are biting,” a senior administration official said, adding that the next round of sanctions will force Iran to decide between adhering to international demands or suffering a crippling blow to its economy.

These sanctions will deny national and private banks that conduct business with Iran’s central bank access to America’s financial system. The first stage of the sanctions relates to business dealings outside the energy sector; the second, to be implemented within six months, includes all petroleum transactions.

In recent weeks, according to the senior official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, the United States sent teams overseas to discuss the implementation of sanctions with other nations. The goal of these teams was to increase oil supplies from Gulf countries and from Iraq and Libya in order to make up for Iranian oil and to convince key consumers of Iranian oil, including China, Japan and India, to diversify their oil suppliers and cut purchases from Iran. The United States has also increased its own oil and natural gas production to make sure the sanctions don’t lead to a spike in oil prices. “We are doing this in a phased but aggressive manner so Iran doesn’t increase its oil revenue,” the official said.

This phased approach has caused some in Israel to question the resolve of the United States to actually block Iran’s oil sales. “The American administration is hesitant because it fears oil prices will go up in an election year, and in this aspect this is definitely disappointing,” Israel’s deputy prime minister, Moshe Ya’alon, said on January 16.

But remarks by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on January 18 appeared designed to allay American concerns that the two nations were on different tracks.

Close talks between the two governments, including a visit by Martin Dempsey, chairman of America’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Israel on January 19, were focused on reassuring Israelis that America’s drive for sanctions is serious and effective.

Friction between the two countries was also caused by a clandestine act that the United States feared could derail its sanctions effort and ignite violence.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.