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Israel PM asks US to 'immediately halt' Iran nuclear talks

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a panel organised by Reichman University in Herzliya, Israel on 23 November 2021. [Israeli Government Press Office - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 23 November 2021 [Israeli Government Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett yesterday asked the United States to "immediately halt" ongoing talks on Iran's nuclear programme taking place in Vienna, his office said in a statement.

The statement said Bennett spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and told him that Iran was utilising "nuclear blackmail" as a tactic and therefore the United States should initiate "an immediate cessation of negotiations."

According to the Prime Minister's Office, Blinken provided Bennett with an update on the talks, which restarted earlier this week.

The State Department did not immediately provide its own readout of the call.

In the phone conversation, Bennett referenced a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealing that Iran has recently begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent purity with advanced centrifuges at its Fordo facility.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), some economic sanctions were lifted from Iran in exchange for strict limits on its nuclear programme.

However, the deal crumbled in 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

READ: Iran 'enriching uranium at 20% purity,' says nuclear watchdog 

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