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Sat Mar 28 18:02:48 SAST 2015

Israel warns Teheran of Egypt-style uprising

Sapa-AFP | 01 October, 2012 00:06
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman arrives for a news conference in Vienna, June 30, 2011. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (AUSTRIA - Tags: POLITICS)

International sanctions could trigger a popular uprising in Iran similar to the revolt in Egypt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak last year, Israel's foreign minister said in an interview published yesterday.

"The opposition demonstrations that took place in Iran in June 2009 will come back in even greater force," Avigdor Lieberman said in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

"In my view, there's going to be an Iranian-style Tahrir revolution," he said, referring to last year's mass protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, which forced Mubarak to quit.

"The young are sick of being held hostage and sacrificing their future," Lieberman said.

"The situation in Iran, and the feelings of the man-on-the-street, are one of economic catastrophe," he said.

"Just this week, there was another devaluation of the Iranian rial . There's a shortage of basic goods, a rise in crime and people are trying to flee the country, sending money abroad."

Haaretz said the interview was on Saturday, in New York, where Lieberman attended the UN General Assembly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the assembly, Netanyahu warned of the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran with the help of a sketch of a comic-book bomb complete with fizzing fuse and a line drawn in red marker-pen showing the stage in the device's development that he said Iran must not be allowed to pass.

"You can laugh but everyone is talking about . the red line," Lieberman told Haaretz.

The Iranian government says it is enriching uranium to 20% purity - a short technical step from the 90% needed for a bomb - for a medical-research reactor.

The West believes the effort hides a military goal.

Netanyahu has publicly aired his differences with President Barack Obama's administration about Iran's nuclear ambitions, criticising Washington for failing to set its own "red lines" that would trigger military action against Tehran.

Israeli media yesterday said his UN speech had taken a more conciliatory tone and helped ease tensions with the White House.

"The conflict between Israel and the US is apparently behind us now," wrote Yisrael Hayom, considered to be close to Netanyahu.

A senior Israeli official told reporters that Netanyahu's New York trip had two main objectives: "To put the Iranian issue at the top of the international agenda, and to tighten relations with the US. We succeeded in both," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said Netanyahu held a "very good" phone conversation with Obama on Friday that lasted for about half an hour.


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