EghtesadOnline: Downing Street on Thursday rejected Israeli calls for Britain to take a harder line against Iran, following Tehran’s decision to announce new reductions in its commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in London as part of the latter’s campaign to urge European leaders to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose fresh sanctions on Iran.
Netanyahu also acknowledged that US President Donald Trump may meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations this month, but said America should keep up economic pressure even if the unprecedented talks take place, according to Financial Tribune.
“I can’t tell you when or whether the talks will take place between President Trump and Rouhani,” Netanyahu told reporters in London, Telegraph reported.
“Today I think what is needed is more pressure and the leverage which will come from that pressure on … Iran.”
The meeting between Netanyahu and Johnson came, as Iran said it would launch a third tranche of nuclear deal wind-downs as of Friday. The new measures are likely to include bringing new nuclear centrifuges online and expanding atomic research.
Iran has been gradually scaling down its nuclear commitments to pressure European states to find a way around US sanctions and provide relief to Iran’s underperforming economy.
No Shift in UK Policy
Israeli officials said they were encouraged by the meeting with Johnson, but there did not appear to be any shift in the UK’s position and a Downing Street spokesman indicated Johnson would continue the policy of his predecessor, Theresa May, of siding with France and Germany in support of the nuclear deal, despite US and Israeli pressure.
“Both prime ministers agreed on the need to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon and stop wider [allegedly] destabilizing Iranian behavior. [Johnson] stressed the need for dialogue and a diplomatic solution,” the spokesman contended.
Tehran says its nuclear program is totally for peaceful purposes and has no military dimensions.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been working on an initiative to encourage Iran to come back into compliance with the nuclear deal in return for a $15 billion bank credit line.
Macron is also eager to engineer a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during this month’s UN General Assembly summit.
Trump said this week he was open to such a meeting.
“Anything's possible. They would like to be able to solve their problem,” Trump said.
Iran has so far rejected the idea of talks until the US lifts sanctions. But Netanyahu’s comments indicate Israel is taking the possibility of a meeting seriously.