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Israel says EU reservation on Iran nuclear breach like appeasement of Nazis

Israeli PM demands harsher restrictions on Iran's nuclear activity
Netanyahu presenting Israeli intelligence on Iranian nuclear operations (Reuters)

The European Union's decision to not penalise Iran for breaching the limits of the nuclear deal was slammed on Monday by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who compared it to the failed diplomatic efforts with Nazi Germany before World War Two. 

"(It) reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s," Netanyahu said in a video statement after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said none of the parties to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran saw its increased uranium enrichment as "significant non-compliance".

"Then, too, there were those who stuck their head in the sand and did not see the approaching danger," said Netanyahu, who has often cast Iran's nuclear projects as a mortal menace to Israel and the wider world. Iran denies seeking a nuclear bomb.

"It seems there are those in Europe who will not wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles land on European soil. But then it will be too late, of course," Netanyahu said.

Iran recently breached the limits on uranium enrichment set out in the nuclear deal and threatened to go further if the EU did not take steps to protect Iran from sanctions imposed by the US last year. 

US President Donald Trump broke off from the deal negotiated under the previous administration of Barack Obama, deeming it insufficient. That left Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany as parties to the deal.

Israel has predicted that, should European powers join Washington in reimposing sanctions on Tehran, that could prompt the Iranians to enter talks on a more limiting nuclear accord.

Alluding to Israel's long-standing, if veiled, threat of a last-resort war against its arch-foe, Netanyahu said: "In any event, we will continue to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran getting nuclear weaponry." 

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he would speak to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Trump this week as part of a French initiative to prevent an escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

"The momentum we built over the last few weeks has, I think, prevented the worst from happening and overreactions on the Iranian side," Macron told a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart.

"In these difficult conditions, we will continue our mediation and negotiation work," he added.