Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi urged continued pressure on Iran through sanctions and said Israel risks becoming a diplomatic outcast if it follows through on threats to carry out military strikes.
Terzi, speaking in an interview yesterday, said Europe was prepared to enforce tighter trade restrictions to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and disputed that an Israeli attack would deter Iran from developing an atomic weapon.
“It would not be decisive in terms of bringing to zero the nuclear military program,” Terzi told Bloomberg Television from his offices in Rome. “It could also have consequences in global terms in international diplomacy, the kind of isolation that it could provoke for Israel itself.”
Iranians have suffered a surge in the cost of living as Europe and the U.S. check oil output and cut off the flow of hard currencies. Spiralling inflation has put pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who says his nuclear program is peaceful.
“This pressure is going to increase again at the European level if the Iranians are not coming back with substantive willingness to engage in the negotiations,” said Terzi, who was chosen in November for a position in Prime Minister Mario Monti’s Cabinet. “They should provide guarantees that the enrichment is stopped or at least contained at a level which is compatible with the civilian uses.”
Italy, the third-biggest economy in the 17-nation euro area, is pushing for greater diplomatic cooperation to help end the civil war in Syria. Russia, Terzi said, must be “a constructive partner” for a solution. As the Syrian regime continues killing civilians, Italy ruled out arming the rebels, Terzi said.
“Italy is very active in supporting a political solution,” Terzi said. “We are very actively supporting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian population.”
Regional and international efforts have failed to end 19 months of bloodshed in Syria which has killed more than 30,000 people, according to estimates by the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Syrian rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad have moved this month to drive government troops from the commercial hub of Aleppo.
In Europe, Italy is seeking to encourage nations to cooperate in response to the region’s sovereign debt crisis. The European collective bond-buying program, which Monti helped create this year to help countries in need, hasn’t been tapped yet. Terzi reiterated that Italy had no current need for aid and said that Spain will make its own decision.
“We have not received a direct request to move together,” Terzi said of the Spanish government. “They themselves have not made the final decision at this point.”