Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed the U.S. for stronger sanctions on Iran even as it pursues nuclear talks, in an emerging conflict between the two allies amid a thaw between Washington and Tehran.
Mr. Netanyahu, who met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, also said Iran needed to completely dismantle its "military nuclear program" before the West should roll back financial pressure or the threat of military force against Iran's nuclear installations.
The line set by Israel's leader differed from the White House's position that Tehran could maintain some of its nuclear-enrichment capabilities if it allowed the international community to verify that Iran's program was solely for peaceful purposes.
The International Monetary Fund put Iran's foreign-exchange reserves at $90 billion at the end of 2012. Outside experts who have studied Tehran's finances believe these reserves could now be as low as $70 billion and that Iran may have access to as little as $15 billion, because of sanctions and the country's inability to repatriate some of its U.S. dollar holdings.
"Iran's fully accessible reserves may cover as little as three months of imports," said Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank that advises Congress on Iran sanctions.