US President Donald Trump meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in March. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone Wednesday about Iran as well as joint Israeli-American security interests, the same day the U.S. president threatened to "substantially" increase sanctions on Tehran to curb its nuclear activities.
Iran recently started enriching uranium beyond a limit established in a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, a deal from which Trump withdrew. Trump has since intensified economic sanctions on Tehran, and tensions have escalated.“The two leaders discussed cooperation between the United States and Israel in advancing shared national security interests, including efforts to prevent Iran’s malign actions in the region,” Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told reporters on Thursday.
Netanyahu’s office added that the prime minister expressed appreciation that Trump planned to increased sanctions against Iran.
The two men spoke as tensions have risen between Tehran and the US, as well as with the UK and Europe .
Three Iranian vessels tried to block a BP-operated tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz but backed off when confronted by a Royal Navy warship, the UK government said on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, a senior Iranian parliamentarian said that if European countries do not meet their commitments under a nuclear deal then Iran will "strongly" take more steps to reduce its own obligations, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal last year and reimposed sanctions to pressure Iran to negotiate further on its nuclear program as well as on its ballistic missiles and regional policy.
Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up uranium enrichment to 20% purity, a move that would go far beyond the small steps Iran has taken in the past week to nudge stocks of fissile material just beyond limits in the pact.
"In the event that Europe does not act on its commitments during the 60-day time span which we are currently in, Iran will take the third step strongly,” Mojtaba Zolnour, the chairman of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy commission, said, according to Fars.
Installing new centrifuges are possible steps, Zolnour said.
Separately, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday there would be no negotiations with the United States as long as sanctions are in place.
"We never left the negotiating table… (the Americans) decided to leave the negotiating table and now they make a false claim in order to deceive that they are ready for negotiations," Zarif said, according to the IRIB news agency. "We will not negotiate with those who are taking part in economic terrorism against our people. They must stop this."
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