Britain rejects to take tough stance on Iran as Netanyahu meets Johnson

September 6, 2019 - 19:29

TEHRAN – Downing Street on Thursday appeared to reject Israeli calls for Britain to take a harder line against Iran, despite Tehran warning it will continue to reduce its commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal this weekend.   

Boris Johnson met Benjamin Netanyahu in London as the Israeli prime minister continued his campaign to urge European leaders to abandon the nuclear deal and impose fresh sanctions on Iran, according to The Telegraph.

Netanyahu also acknowledged that U.S. 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. 

“I can’t tell you when or whether the talks will take place between President Trump and Rouhani,” Netanyahu told reporters in London. “Today I think what is needed is more pressure and the leverage which will come from that pressure on the regime in Iran.”

The meeting between Netanyahu and Johnson came as Iran said it would announce a third tranche of limiting its nuclear deal commitments this Saturday. The new steps would include bringing new nuclear centrifuges online and expanding atomic research.     

Tehran has been gradually stepping up downscaling its commitments to the nuclear deal in an effort to pressure European states to find a way around U.S. sanctions on Iran. 

There did not appear to be any shift in the UK’s position and a Downing Street spokesman indicated Johnson would continue Theresa May’s policy of siding with France and Germany in support of the nuclear deal, despite U.S. and Israeli pressure.  

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has been working on an initiative to encourage Iran to come back into compliance with the nuclear deal in return for a $15bn line of bank credit. 

Macron is also eager to engineer a meeting between Trump and Rouhani during this month’s UN General Assembly summit. 

Trump said this week he was open to such a meeting, which would be the first face-to-face encounter between U.S. and Iranian leaders since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. “Anything’s possible. They would like to be able to solve their problem,” Trump said.

Iran has so far publicly rejected the idea of talks until the U.S. lifts sanctions. But Netanyahu’s comments indicate Israel, an arch-enemy of Iran, is taking the possibility of a meeting seriously. 

“I don’t rule it out and I certainly don’t decide for the president of the U.S. when to meet and who to meet with,” Netanyahu said. 

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, also on Thursday tweeted a call on the British government not to follow the policies of the U.S. and Israel in their anti-Iran campaign.


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