Israeli PM urges US to halt nuke talks with Iran

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Jerusalem, (Asian independent) Israel has urged the United States to halt the nuclear talks with Iran immediately, accusing Iran of having begun to enrich uranium with advanced centrifuges.

The call was made on Thursday during a phone talk between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to a statement issued by Bennett’s office, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bennett quoted a report released on Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to which Iran has started the process of enriching uranium to the level of 20-per cent purity with advanced centrifuges at its Fordow underground facility.

Accusing Iran of “carrying out ‘nuclear blackmail’ as a negotiation tactic,” the Israeli leader said “this must be met with an immediate cessation” of the ongoing negotiations between Iran and world powers in Vienna.

The talks in the Austrian capital are aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

A vocal opponent of the nuclear deal, Israel insists that Iran has been secretly seeking to obtain nuclear weapons despite Iran’s repeated statements that its nuclear programme is peaceful.