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Israeli defense minister calls for sanctions against Iran

By Tom Evans, CNN
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U.S., Israel sanctions on Iran
  • Israel defense minister says Russia, China must back sanctions
  • Barak: The support of those countries will make sanctions effective
  • Israel, U.S.: Iran moving closer to building nuclear weapon
  • Iran: Nuclear program is for peaceful purposes

Fresh from a round of high-level meetings with U.S. government officials and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak joins Christiane Amanpour for an exclusive one-on-one interview. Watch "Amanpour," Sunday 2 p.m. ET and 2100 CET on CNN International

(CNN) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Saturday for new sanctions against Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, encouraging the financial pressure to continue "until it becomes effective."

But he warned that sanctions won't be successful unless Russia and China back them, adding "we recommend to all players not to remove any option from the table."

Barak made the comments to CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview to be aired Sunday.

Speaking after extensive talks with top U.S. officials and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Barak declined to be specific about what might happen if sanctions do not deter Iran. But he said he wanted to see results within months not years.

Israel, the United States, and many other countries say Iran is moving closer to building a nuclear weapon, a charge that Iran denies. Tehran says its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes.

Video: Barak: U.N. encourages terror
Video: 'We know how to respond'

Barak said Tehran is clearly headed toward nuclear missile capability.

"They're trying to defeat and defy the whole world," he said.

"They have two examples in mind," he said of Iran's nuclear ambitions. "One is Pakistan, which they feel somewhat similar (to). And the other is North Korea. And in those two cases they were successful against sanctions."

Barak predicted a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if Iran successfully builds nuclear weapons, saying Saudi Arabia will "turn nuclear in a few months," and Turkey and Egypt will probably follow shortly thereafter.

He praised the Obama administration for addressing the issue and pushing for sanctions against Iran, despite a heavy burden of domestic and international commitments.

"I think we (Israel and the U.S.) both agree (sanctions) should be effective," he said. "We recommend to all players not to remove any option from the table. And we live by what we recommend to others."

Asked if Israel fears an attack by Hezbollah, an organization supported by Iran and Syria, Barak said: "I'm not sure whether we are going to face a pre-emptive attack, but anyhow, we are not interested in conflict in the north or in the east. But if it is imposed on us, we know how to respond."

Asked whether the U.N.-sponsored Goldstone Report accusing both Israel and Hamas of war crimes in their war a year ago could make Israel "think twice" about how to conduct a future war, Barak said "no."

"We always try to improve ourselves, but we don't need the Goldstone report for this. We started an investigation into the details of what happened (in Gaza) long before Goldstone wrote his report."

He added, "I would like to say something about Goldstone. I see that after seven years of suffering thousands of rockets, terrorizing our civilian population around the Gaza Strip, Israel had the right and the duty to respond. ... Goldstone's report is biased, distorted, and totally unexplainable in my judgment, and it even encourages terror."

Barak declined to comment on the assassination of a top Hamas official in Dubai last month that many are blaming on Israel's external intelligence service, Mossad.

But he did talk about an undercover mission he took part in back in 1973 when he dressed up as a woman. That mission ended with the killing of three high-ranking Palestinian Liberation Organization men in Beirut.

"I never killed Palestinians per se," he said. "I killed terrorists who were directly responsible for the killing -- indiscriminate killing -- of civilians."