Israel’s leader urged France to turn its attention to tackling Iran’s “regional aggression”, saying he no longer needed to convince Paris to quit world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran as economic pressure would kill it anyway, Reuters reports.
Benjamin Netanyahu was in Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron as part of a tour to persuade the European signatories - Britain, France and Germany - to follow Washington’s lead in pursuing a tough stance on Iran after it pulled out of the accord and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
“I didn’t ask France to withdraw from the JCPOA (Iran deal) because I think it is basically going to be dissolved by the weight of economic forces,” Netanyahu told a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“If you have a bad deal you don’t have to stick to it especially if you see that Iran is conquering one country after another and you cannot divorce this from Iran’s aggression in the (Middle East) region.”
The three European powers are scrambling to save the deal - under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for a lifting of international sanctions - as they regard it as the best chance to stop Tehran developing an atomic bomb.
Israel maintains that Iran duped the West into a one-sided deal and plans to use the break from sanctions to build up its financial reserves before returning to full-scale enrichment of uranium for future nuclear weapons.
Macron did not appear receptive to Netanyahu’s argument. “I told the prime minister of my deep conviction, which is shared with our European partners, that the accord needs to be preserved to ensure control of nuclear activity,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump denounced the 2015 accord, reached under predecessor Barack Obama, as it did not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program, its role in Middle East wars or what happens after the deal begins to expire in 2025.
The European powers share those concerns but say that the accord, also negotiated with China and Russia, is the best way to prevent Tehran developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Macron reiterated that he wanted to open up new negotiations on the other issues of concern to Washington.
Iran has long said it wants nuclear energy only for civilian uses. Tehran says its ballistic missiles are for defensive purposes only and non-negotiable, and that it has every right to support its allies involved in regional conflicts.