Friday, 13 Dec 2019 - 15 of Kislev, 5780

‘This is the time to upgrade pressure on Iran’

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s snap visit in London comes amid French efforts to broker a détente between the US and Iran, a move Netanyahu strongly opposes. Along with France and Germany, the UK is part of the E3 group that helped negotiate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal from which the U.S. pulled out. Britain and its European partners publicly opposed the Trump administration’s pull-out from the agreement last year.

LONDON—Israeli Prime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s snap visit to London on Thursday, for a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, is aimed at discussing the regional security situation with an emphasis, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, on fighting off ‘’Iran’s terror and aggression.’’

But it is mainly intended to tell his interlocutors that that “this is not the time to talk to Iran, it’s the time to upgrade pressure on Iran,” as Netanyahu put it Thursday morning as he flew to the British capital.

“Today we were told about another violation carried out by Iran, this time in relation to nuclear proliferation. It’s part of the aggressive actions of Iran in the international sphere and part of their attempts to carry out attacks against Israel, attempts which have not halted,” he said.

Netanyahu’s meeting with US Defence Secretary Esper will be a continuation of their phone conversation from earlier this week where they discussed “Israel’s security needs.” The two decided to continue the discussion in person in London, where Esper was set to be in any event.

US Vice President Mike Pence will also be visiting London today, although Israeli officials were unclear on whether he and Netanyahu would meet as well.

Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and the IDF Head of Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva will be joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his trip to London.

Netanyahu’s meetings with Johnson and Esper will be the first since both men took on their new positions as British Prime Minister and US Defence Secretary, respectively. The visit also comes amid reports in the Israeli media that President Donald Trump may soon make a major announcement about a formal US-Israeli defence pact.

For Netanyahu the visit is also likely meant to serve his re-election campaign, with the general election on SepteMber 17 – burnishing the long-serving incumbent’s public reputation as a global statesman.

Netanyahu’s snap visit in London comes amid French efforts to broker a détente between the US and Iran, a move Netanyahu strongly opposes. Along with France and Germany, the UK is part of the E3 group that helped negotiate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal from which the U.S. pulled out. Britain and its European partners publicly opposed the Trump administration’s pull-out from the agreement last year.

The United States said it would not provide waivers to allow France to give Iran a $15 billion relief package.

“We did sanctions today. There will be more sanctions coming,” U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters on Wednesday. “We can’t make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure, and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers.”

The French reportedly have proposed the relief to the Iranians in exchange for the regime adhering to the stipulations of the 2015 nuclear deal.

An Iranian delegation was in Paris on Monday to finalize the details of the financial lifeline, which the French government has declined to share the details of, that would assist Iran amid crushing U.S. sanctions, reported The New York Times, citing Iranian press reports and a senior U.S. official.

The meeting with Secretary of Defense Esper comes amidst a backdrop of Israeli strikes in Lebanon, Syria and most prominently Iraq in recent weeks, targeting Iran and Iranian-allied proxy groups. The US Defence Department is known to be wary of Israeli operations in Iraq, where American troops are still stationed.

Netanyahu’s scheduled visits to South Korea, Japan and most recently India have been cancelled. The Israeli PM did, however, fly to Ukraine last month. Reports in the Israeli media yesterday indicated that Netanyahu may visit Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin before the September 17 Israeli election.There is also speculation about a  meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington

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