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Israel turns to Europe for support on the Iranian nuclear issue

Published: Updated:

Israel’s prime minister is reaching out to Europe for support in pressuring Iran over its nuclear program ahead of talks between Iran and world powers. The bid to engage Europe comes soon after news of a 15-minute phone call between Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and U.S. President Barack Obama.

An Israeli official said on Saturday Netanyahu phoned British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande to tell them sanctions were close to achieving their goal.

“Until Iran dismantles its military nuclear program, sanctions must not be eased - on the contrary. Only the pressure brought Iran to this point, and only the continuation of pressure and its strengthening can bring them to dismantle their nuclear program,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Iran’s new president has adopted a softer tone to the West in a move that critics dismiss as a trick aimed at removing biting sanctions.

“I wish I could believe Rowhani. But I don’t,” Netanyahu said at the U.N. General Assembly meeting last week. Israel’s future is threatened by a “nuclear-armed” Iran seeking its destruction, he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rowhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Netanyahu added.

Rowhani says his country's nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes and since his June election victory has been trying to ease friction with the West in an attempt to win relief from international sanctions.

Western diplomats have played down any suggestion Iran's new openness will result in an immediate loosening of sanctions, reported Reuters.

But they are also hoping that the Geneva-based talks on October 15-16 between six world powers - including Britain and France - and Iran will deliver an opportunity to make progress on ending the decade-long dispute.