Netanyahu Calls for 'Crippling Sanctions' Against Iran

Despite tensions with U.S., Netanyahu calls relationship 'rock solid.'

ByABC News via logo
April 18, 2010, 5:59 PM

April 19, 2010— -- Amid recent tensions between the United States and close ally Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for President Obama and the international community to consider "crippling sanctions" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program.

In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America's" George Stephanopoulos, the Israeli prime minister said the possibility that Iran could develop a nuclear weapons program is the "biggest issue facing our times."

Last week China agreed in principle that it would join the four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to support sanctions against Iran, which the Obama administration officials have said they hope will be passed before the end of April.

But while Netanyahu wants sanctions to be effective, he has doubts and said the international community could deliver tougher ones if they chose to.

"If you stop…Iran from importing…petroleum, that's a fancy word for gasoline, then Iran simply doesn't have refining capacity and this regime comes to a halt. I think that's crippling sanctions," Netanyahu said.

China and Russia do not support harsh sanctions against Iran, but Netanyahu instead suggested going outside the U.N. Security Council for support.

"There's a coalition of the willing and you can have very powerful sanctions. I think this is a minimal requirement right now to not really to send messages but to actually make this regime begin to make choices. Because right now they feel they don't have to make choices," Netanyahu said. "They understand that the spotlight is on them but they're not doing anything."