Netanyahu heads to Europe to seek support over Iran

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading to Europe in a bid to rally support from key allies for amending the international nuclear deal with Iran.

Mr Netanyahu is set to meet with leaders from Germany, France and Britain, beginning with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

Addressing his Cabinet on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said Iran would top his agenda and voiced optimism for the visit.

Israel has been a leading critic of the nuclear deal, and more recently, has said it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

“For years we stood alone against these twin threats and I think that the situation has changed for the better,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Mr Netanyahu unsuccessfully tried to block the landmark deal that which gave Iran relief from crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme when it was negotiated in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

The Israeli leader has found a welcome ally in President Donald Trump, who last month withdrew the United States from the deal.

Both the US and Israel hope President Trump’s withdrawal can lead all sides into addressing what they say are the deal’s shortcomings — including “sunset” provisions that end restrictions on Iranian nuclear activities, such as enriching uranium, as well as permitting Iran to continue to develop long-range missiles.

Mr Netanyahu says that as the deal expires over the next decade or so, Iran will emerge with the ability to produce a nuclear bomb in a very short time.

In addition to the US, the nuclear deal was negotiated by Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China.

The remaining members have said they remain committed to the deal. Iran for now also is honouring the agreement, though some top officials have suggested it resume its enrichment activities.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said France will insist on having a dialogue with Iran.

An official in his office said Mr Macron, along with Germany and the UK, have all been “clear” that they will work with the existing deal, viewing it as the best way to control Iran’s nuclear activity.

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