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As Israel bids to nix nuke talks, Iran says delegates not taking orders from Bennett

Tehran foreign ministry spokesman says Israel is showing its ‘true colors’ by opposing the renewed negotiations in Vienna

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press conference in Tehran, on February 22, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press conference in Tehran, on February 22, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran lashed out at Israel Thursday after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for an immediate halt to talks in Vienna aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry charged that Israel was showing its “true color” by opposing negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The talks resumed this week after a months-long pause.

“Not surprising. Dialogue is always despised by the regime whose genesis is based on war, tension & terror,” Saeed Khatibzadeh wrote on Twitter.

“Delegates in Vienna won’t take instruction from Beit Aghion,” he added, referring to the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Khatibzadeh also claimed that progress had been made in the talks.

On Wednesday, Khatibzadeh accused Israel of “trumpeting lies to poison” the talks in Vienna.

Before Khatibzadeh’s tweet on Thursday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken by phone that Iran was employing “nuclear blackmail” as a tactic and therefore the US should initiate “an immediate cessation of negotiations,” the Israeli premier’s office said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) meets with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Willard Hotel in Washington, August 25, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)

The US is taking part in the talks indirectly, after former president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018. Following its exit, the US began reinstating sanctions on Tehran while Iran began to openly breach the deal’s terms.

In the phone conversation, Bennett referenced a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency revealing that Iran has recently begun enriching uranium to 20% purity with advanced centrifuges at its Fordo facility.

Bennett told Blinken that instead of a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, “concrete steps” against Iran should be “taken by the major powers.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly reiterated its desire to return to the 2015 agreement, but Israel has long maintained its opposition to US plans to return to the terms of the original deal.

During their talk, Bennett told Blinken that instead of a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, “concrete steps” against Iran should be “taken by the major powers.”

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