Britain and Israel have pledged to work together to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as the two nations agree to boost collaboration on issues such as cybersecurity, defence, and trade.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK will “work flat out” to prevent Iran from securing nuclear weapons, after she signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid in London on Monday.
“On the subject of Iran, we are absolutely determined to prevent Iran from securing a nuclear weapon, and all options are on the table,” she told reporters at the Foreign Office.
Earlier, in a joint article in The Daily Telegraph, the two ministers vowed to work “night and day” to prevent Iran from “ever becoming a nuclear power.”
“The clock is ticking, which heightens the need for close cooperation with our partners and friends to thwart Tehran’s ambitions,” they wrote.
It comes as representatives from Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom commence talks in Vienna to resuscitate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“We want Iran to agree to the original JCPOA—that is very important,” Truss said at the Foreign Office press briefing. “And we want those talks to work. But if they don’t work, all options are on the table.”
Commenting on the talks in Vienna, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said, “The challenge is that Iran’s nuclear programme has never been more advanced than it is today and that’s undermining international security.”
“If a deal is not swiftly concluded and Iran continues its nuclear escalation, then they will be responsible for the collapse of the nuclear deal and a missed opportunity,” he said.
The Iran nuclear deal was promoted by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015 as the “best option” to keep Iran from wielding nuclear arms, even temporarily.
But the Iranian regime appeared to head in the opposite direction. In 2017, it announced a 150 percent increase in its military budget to develop long-range missiles, armed drones, and cyber-warfare capabilities. It also started to use part of its $150 billion in assets abroad that had previously been frozen by sanctions.
President Donald Trump in May 2018 withdrew the United States from the nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions on Iran in an effort to force the Islamic regime to change a plethora of activities that the Trump administration said were unacceptable.
For example, in 2019, the Iranian regime had said publicly that it was in breach of the uranium enrichment limits set out in the deal.
Iran and six powers began in April to discuss ways to revive the nuclear pact. Six rounds of talks have been held so far. They have been indirect, with chiefly European diplomats shuttling between U.S. and Iranian officials, because Iran refuses direct contact with the United States.
Mimi Nguyen Ly and PA contributed to this report.