In Israel, Merkel Says Next Weeks Will Be 'Decisive' for Iran Nuclear Talks

'We have to return to the negotiation table,' even though 'Iran hasn't signaled that it wants to resume talks,' says the chancellor speaking alongside Prime Minister Bennett

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking alongside Prime Minister Nafatli Bennet in Jerusalem on Sunday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking alongside Prime Minister Nafatli Bennet in Jerusalem on Sunday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday the next few weeks will be "very decisive" for the future of international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Merkel said "we should send Iran an unmistakable message" to return to talks.

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According to Merkel, with every day that passes, without Tehran responding to U.S. overtures, Iran will enrich more uranium.

She said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping also are responsible for helping to push Iran back to the negotiating table.

"We see how the Iranians are operating – for now without a nuclear umbrella – in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Gaza and in the Gulf," Bennett said. "We can only imagine the level of damage... if behind that bullying there was a nuclear bomb, too."

Speaking earlier on Sunday, after a joint meeting with Merkel at the start of her farewell visit to Israel, Bennett said that "over the past three years, unfortunately, the Iranians have leaped forward" in their nuclear program.

While they "are buying time, the centrifuges keep spinning," Bennett added.

"It is Israel's responsibility – with actions and not only words – to ensure Iran doesn't achieve nuclear weapons," he said.

The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.

Tehran’s strategy of deliberately violating the deal is seen as an attempt to put pressure on Europe to provide it with incentives to offset crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the U.S. pullout.

President Joe Biden has said he is open to rejoining the pact. The last round of talks in Vienna ended in June without a clear result.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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