Israeli official: Sanctions needed, as radical cleric still runs Iran despite new president

  • Updated: June 16, 2013 - 1:25 AM

JERUSALEM — A senior Israeli official says international sanctions are still needed to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program, despite the election of a reformist-backed president.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, said Sunday that there won't be any change on Iran's nuclear policy since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei still runs the country.

Steinitz is responsible for monitoring Iran's nuclear program.

Despite Hasan Rowhani's surprise victory in Friday's election, all key decisions — including nuclear efforts, defense and foreign affairs — remain solidly in the hands of the ruling clerics and their powerful protectors, the Revolutionary Guard.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat, citing Tehran's calls for Israel's destruction. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

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