x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Iran sanctions 'could herald its Arab spring', Israel foreign minister says

International sanctions that are biting hard could trigger a popular uprising in Iran similar to last year's revolution in Egypt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, the Israeli foreign minister claims.

JERUSALEM // International sanctions that are biting hard could trigger a popular uprising in Iran similar to last year's revolution in Egypt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, the Israeli foreign minister claimed yesterday.

"The opposition demonstrations that took place in Iran in June 2009 will come back in even greater force," Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview published by the 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 that forced Mubarak to quit.

Haaretz said that the interview took place on Saturday in New York, where Mr Lieberman attended the United Nations General Assembly, along with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the assembly, Mr Netanyahu delivered a warning about 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 showing the state in the device's development which he said Iran must not be allowed to pass.

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

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

The West believes that the effort hides a military goal.