Report: Netanyahu to corner world leaders about Iran on NATO sidelines in London

Prime minister said set to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Germany’s Merkel, and France’s Macron, as they gather for summit of military alliance in UK capital

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on October 18, 2019. (David Azagury/US Embassy Jerusalem)
Illustrative: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on October 18, 2019 (David Azagury/US Embassy Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week, on the sidelines of a NATO summit in London, Channel 13 news reported Sunday.

Netanyahu will fly to the British capital on Tuesday for talks with Pompeo, and will spend two days meeting with world leaders, pressing them about Iran and its recent withdrawal from commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal, the report said.

In addition to Pompeo, the prime minister plans to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Emmanuel Macron, as well as other leaders.

Netanyahu last met with Pompeo in October, when the US top envoy visited Jerusalem.

Israel is not a member of NATO and Netanyahu is not an invitee to the conference. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is holding a two-day gathering of member heads of state and government on December 3-4.

Earlier Sunday Netanyahu scolded six new European members of the INSTEX barter mechanism meant to circumvent US sanctions on Iran, saying they encouraged the Iranian regime’s repression of its citizens and “should be ashamed of themselves.”

“While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,” Netanyahu charged in a video.

In a separate statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry castigated the six countries and said “Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden could not have picked worse timing. The hundreds of innocent Iranians murdered during the latest round of protests are rolling in their graves.”

Protests broke out across sanctions-hit Iran on November 15, hours after a sharp fuel price hike was announced.

Reports of deaths and arrests emerged as security forces were deployed to rein in demonstrations which turned violent in some areas, with dozens of banks, gas stations and police stations torched.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International has said that 161 demonstrators were killed.

A 2015 international agreement set out restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions. The deal was opposed by Israel, which argued that Iran’s regime would find ways to violate the agreement, and would use the breathing room to expand its ballistic missile program and support for terror groups throughout the region.

Last year, the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal and reinstated crippling sanctions against Tehran. The INSTEX system is designed to sidestep the sanctions and keep the deal afloat.

Iran has gradually increased enrichment and the stockpiling of nuclear material in contravention of the 2015 agreement, as a means of pressuring Europe to bolster the INSTEX system. European countries have expressed alarm at Iran’s moves, but say they remain committed to the nuclear accord.

Israel has praised the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.

The Paris-based INSTEX functions as a clearing house allowing Iran to continue to sell oil and import other products or services in exchange. The system has not yet enabled any transactions.

The accession of the six new members “further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran,” France, Germany, and Britain said.

It represents “a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” — the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal — the trio added.

They insisted Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the deal “without delay.”

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