US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Iran’s “malign” actions, the White House said on Thursday, as escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington threatened to torpedo a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement.
“The two leaders discussed cooperation between the United States and Israel in advancing shared national security interests, including efforts to prevent Iran’s malign actions in the region,” Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
Trump and Netanyahu spoke on the telephone on Wednesday, with the US president warning on Twitter of forthcoming “substantially” increased sanctions against Tehran over its announcement that it had exceeded a limit on enriched uranium reserves under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Netanyahu confirmed the conversation, tweeting that the leaders had discussed “regional developments and security issues.” “Foremost among them was Iran. I thanked President Trump for his intention to increase sanctions against Iran,” Netanyahu added.
The accord struck between world powers promised Iran sanctions relief and an end to its international isolation in return for curbs on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
But Tehran says it has lost patience with perceived inaction by European countries more than a year after Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement, reimposing stinging sanctions.
Tehran announced on Monday it had surpassed 4.5 per cent uranium enrichment — above the 3.67 per cent limit under the accord — though still far below the 90 per cent necessary for military purposes.
With tensions rising, the United States has dispatched a naval carrier, bombers and extra troops to the region to counter perceived threats from Iran.
Trump said last month he had called off a retaliatory military strike against Iran at the last minute after the Islamic republic shot down a US drone that it said had crossed into its airspace, a claim denied by Washington.