Merkel Sees Decisive Weeks Ahead for Iran’s Nuclear Program
The coming weeks will be decisive for Iran’s nuclear program, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on a visit to Israel, urging Tehran to come back to the negotiating table as its stalled talks with world powers hang in the balance.
The U.S. has warned time is running out to revive a 2015 accord with Iran that would lift sanctions in return for limiting its nuclear work. A sixth round of negotiations ended inconclusively in June and no date’s been set for the next one after a transition of power in Iran complicated diplomacy.
The international community is in a very difficult situation, Merkel said. Although the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sought a return to the deal, “the days go by without Iran giving any indications that it wants to restart the talks,” while it continues sensitive uranium enrichment work. Highly enriched uranium could be used to build a nuclear bomb.
“This is a very critical situation,” she said at a news conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “There are very, very decisive weeks ahead of us.”
Western countries and Israel suspect the program is aimed at making a bomb. Iran denies this.
“The message to Iran is unambiguous: There must be a quick return to the negotiating table,” Merkel said. The original deal was not ideal but it was better than nothing, she added.
Bennett reiterated Israel’s position that a revived nuclear accord would embolden Iran.
Merkel, who will leave office soon, said the new German government will remain committed to Israel’s security, a position it’s taken for decades to try to atone for the country’s Nazi past. She also said Israel’s settlement policy has made a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict difficult.
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