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Israeli PM urges world powers to resist Iran's ‘blackmail'

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett (centre) said that Tehran was seeking “to end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing” (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)
Associated Press Reporters

Israel’s prime minister has called on world powers not to “give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail” as talks began in Vienna aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

In a video statement delivered to representatives of nations opening the talks with Iran, Naftali Bennett said that Tehran was seeking “to end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing” and keep its nuclear programme intact while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars once sanctions are lifted. The video was obtained by The Associated Press.

Iran has ramped up its uranium enrichment since the US withdrew from the landmark nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran in 2018.

Israel vocally opposed that agreement, and Israeli officials now say Tehran is closer than ever to developing nuclear arms, something it will not abide.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is visiting London and Paris this week to discuss Iran with British and French officials. Israel’s Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, will head to Washington this week with the same aim.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only. It has blamed the breakdown of the agreement on the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from it and restore crippling sanctions.

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East, although it maintains a policy of ambiguity about its own programme.

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