Netanyahu opposes Iran talks after Trump moots meeting Rouhani
The prime minister says it's the time to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic rather than hold talks after Iran claimed it will begin developing centrifuges to speed up the enrichment of uranium which can produce fuel for atomic bomb
"This is not the time to hold talks with Iran. This is the time to increase the pressure on Iran," Netanyahu told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport before boarding a flight to London.
Netanyahu's comments marked rare public discord between the right-wing Israeli leader and Trump on the Iranian nuclear issue. Netanyahu had previously counselled France against its own outreach to Iran.
On Wednesday, Trump left the door open to a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly in New York, saying: "Anything's possible. They would like to be able to solve their problem."
Tehran has rejected any negotiations with Washington unless Trump drops sanctions he imposed after withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, an agreement Netanyahu also opposed.
Iran has said that, starting on Friday, it would begin developing centrifuges to speed up the enrichment of uranium, which can produce fuel for power plants or for atomic bombs. The Iranians deny seeking the latter.
The centrifuge move would be Iran's latest reduction of its commitments to restrict nuclear projects under the 2015 deal.
Netanyahu called this "another violation, another provocation by Iran, this time in the realm of its quest for nuclear weaponry ... This joins Iran’s aggressive acts against international shipping and against countries in the region, as well as its efforts to carry out murderous attacks against the State of Israel, efforts that have not ceased," he said.
In London, Netanyahu is due to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper.
"I will discuss all of these issue with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during my snap visit to London," said Netanyahu. "These are important matters for the State of Israel at all times, but especially now.”