Report: Israel presses Italy to stop blocking sanctions against Iran
The consent of all 28 member states of the European Union is necessary in order to approve the new sanctions against the Islamic republic, and Italy is the only country opposing the program.
By JULIANE HELMHOLDUpdated: APRIL 25, 2018 11:05
Israel has been pressing Italy in recent weeks to stop blocking new EU sanctions against Iran, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday. Senior officials told the Israeli broadcaster that earlier in April, Foreign Ministry Director General Yuval Rotem invited Italian Ambassador to Israel Gianluigi Benedetti for a meeting in Tel Aviv to express his dissatisfaction with the Italian position which prevents the implementation of further sanctions on the Iranian regime.According to the report, the consent of all 28 member states of the European Union is necessary in order to approve the new sanctions against the Islamic republic and Italy is the only country opposing the program.This new package of sanctions was introduced by Britain, France and Germany, aiming to stifle the Iranian missile program as well Iranian activities in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The program was intended to show the Trump government that the EU is serious in its activity against Iran and thus persuade the American president not to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.The Italian ambassador, in the meeting with the Foreign Ministry Director General, clarified that his country was blocking sanctions against Iran because they believed the timing was not suitable.A senior Israeli official commented that Italy's hesitations stemmed from a series of business contracts signed by Italian companies in Iran which are estimated to be worth billions of euros and could help Italy overcome its economic crisis.In the meeting, Rotem told the Italian ambassador that Israel expected Italy to re-consider their position and it was agreed that a delegation of the Foreign Ministry and representatives of the Israeli security establishment would make a trip to Rome in order to discuss Israel's information on Iran's activities in the region and the missile program and try to persuade the Italians to change their position.This comes as the deadline of May 12 for the overhaul of the nuclear agreement set by United States President Donald Trump is approaching rapidly. On January 12, Trump issued a statement in which he gave Europeans 120 days to agree to changes made to the nuclear agreement, threatening that if his revisions were rejected, he would scrap the deal altogether.In response, earlier in April Iranian officials threatened that if the nuclear deal was discarded, Iran would be able to restore its halted uranium enrichment process within a matter of days, and that Iran was indeed preparing for every potential scenario.French President Emmanuel Macron, who is currently in Washington trying to convince Trump not to tear up the accord, emphasized on Fox News on Sunday that there is no other option but to preserve the deal. “What is your plan B? I don’t have any Plan B for nuclear against Iran,” he stated.UN High representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu on Monday also urged parties to the Iran nuclear deal not to abandon it, saying that "We hope that all of its participants remain fully committed to its implementation and long-term preservation."Additionally, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on Monday he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any US attempt to sabotage the nuclear deal.On Tuesday morning, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani again warned US President Donald Trump to stay in the nuclear deal or face "severe consequences" and Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani threatened that Iran might withdraw from the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) if the deal was scrapped.US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday evening he and French President Emmanuel Macron could have an agreement soon on the Iran nuclear deal."I think we really had some substantive talks on Iran. And we're looking forward to doing something," Trump told reporters after a meeting at the White House with Macron. "We could have at least an agreement among ourselves very quickly. I think we're fairly close to understanding each other." Reuters contributed to this report.