Time is running out for Iran to return to compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a phone call with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday.
“The prime minister said the UK wants to see the negotiations in Vienna lead to full restoration of the JCPOA, but that we need Iran to engage in good faith,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “The diplomatic door is open, but time is running out to reach an agreement.”
The two premiers discussed the ongoing negotiations in Vienna for Iran and the US to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The US left the deal in 2018; in the past year, Iran enriched uranium up to 60%, far beyond the JCPOA’s limitations and any credible civilian use. The level of enrichment needed for a nuclear weapon is 90%.
Bennett and Johnson “discussed the importance of continued bilateral coordination in order to achieve common goals,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office stated.
They also discussed the ways that they are dealing with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and campaigning for the public to get vaccinated.
Also on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid exchanged barbs with his Iranian counterpart on Twitter.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian tweeted, “The disturbing remarks of the foreign minister of the fake Israeli regime toward the great nation of Iran are an example of the famous Iranian proverb that ‘a camel dreams of a grain of cotton, sometimes it licks the grain of a grain.’
“We defend the rights, interests and progress of the nation with authority and rationality,” Amirabdollahian wrote. “Zionism has no place in the future of the world.”
Lapid tweeted in response, “The extremist Iranian regime threatens Israel with annihilation but will continue to lose this battle.
“Their failed leadership is destroying Iran from within,” he added. “In the words of the Iranian poet Saadi, ‘He whose essence is evil, will forever remain so.’”
It was unclear which of Lapid’s remarks Amirabdollahian found disturbing. A day earlier, Lapid said that negotiations for Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal were unlikely to end well for Israel.
The Vienna talks “won’t reach an optimal result as far as we’re concerned, but we are always working with the people involved to improve the result for Israel,” Lapid said.
The foreign minister said Israel is continually engaged with the other countries involved in the talks, but that will only bring “a lot of small achievements, not a big one.”
World powers’ negotiations with Iran resumed on Monday, after a break for New Year’s weekend.
China, France, Russia, the UK and the US issued a joint statement that they “consider the avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as [their] foremost responsibilities.”
“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the joint statement reads.
Reuters contributed to this report.