Iran on Wednesday accused Israel of “trumpeting lies to poison” ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna between Tehran and world powers.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted that Israel is fomenting tension during the recently renewed negotiations.
“Israeli regime whose existence relies on tension is at it again, trumpeting lies to poison Vienna talks,” Khatibzadeh wrote. “All parties in the room now face a test of their independence & political will to carry out the job — irrespective of the fake news designed to destroy prospects for success.”
Khatibzadeh did not elaborate on which statements he was referring to.
In a meeting in Paris on Tuesday with French President Emanuel Macron, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Iran is merely buying time at the talks in order to continue making progress in its nuclear program, and to gain relief from crippling economic sanctions.
Israel’s top diplomat also emphasized the need to develop an effective Plan B if talks fail.
“After many years, Israel’s position is being heard and Israel’s position is firm,” he said. “Sanctions on Iran must not be removed. Sanctions must be tightened, a credible military threat must be applied, because only that will stop its nuclear race.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said earlier this week that Israeli defense officials are sharing intelligence with allies “indicating Iran is continuing to rush toward a nuclear” program ahead of the resumption of the nuclear talks. He called on world powers to exact a “price” from Iran for its continued uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian envoy to the international bodies in Vienna, said Tuesday that the US is ready to lift sanctions on Iran in order to pave the way for a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, European diplomats indicated that talks on the Iranian nuclear deal are still in very early stages, reported Reuters.
According to the report, diplomats told reporters that negotiators are still waiting to see if the talks can pick back up where they left off in June, before they were suspended and before the election of the hardline Raisi.
Diplomats from France, the UK and Germany said that the issue of Iran’s centrifuges — which it is using to enrich uranium to levels way beyond that agreed to in the 2015 deal — remains an unresolved issue.
If Iran does not show it is serious about returning to negotiations, the talks could quickly stall, the diplomats reportedly said.
Iran ignored appeals from Western countries to restart the talks for several months, all the while strengthening the capabilities of its nuclear program in violation of the accord.