Posted Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:50am AEDT
A US official says Israel has asked for US help in cracking down on illegal pistachio nut imports from Iran, after Washington warned the trade was hurting efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear programme.
Israel imports pistachios worth 100 million shekels ($29.8 million) annually, mostly from Turkey.
But Washington says nuts from arch-foe Iran are mixed in with the shipments, undermining economic sanctions meant to force Tehran to stop developing its nuclear capabilities.
US Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Keenum urged Israeli Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon this week to combat the problem. Mr Simhon agreed, but asked for guidance on how Israel might proceed.
"Israel doesn't have to be urged too much to do something that will deny Iran trade dollars," said Zvi Alon, an official in Israel's Agriculture Ministry.