PARIS : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Emmanuel Macron held a joint news conference Tuesday yet stuck to their opposing views on Iran and the 2015 deal that curbed its nuclear program.
Talking to reporters in Paris after meeting the French leader at the Elysee Palace, Netanyahu said his main focus now was how to push Iranian forces out of Syria. Netanyahu also called Tehran having nuclear weapons “the greatest threat to the world.”
“The nuclear archive that we uncovered recently proves that Iran lied to the world about its nuclear weapons program. And I believe now is the time to apply maximum pressure on Iran, make sure that their nuclear program doesn’t go anywhere,” he said.
Macron said France will continue to work with the existing deal, which it considers the best way to control Iran’s nuclear activity. The French president said he doesn’t see how exiting the nuclear deal would help improve regional stability.
How can one “think that a total absence of controls and commitments is better than the 2015 framework?” he asked. Netanyahu was a staunch opponent of the deal, and welcomed the Trump administration’s decision last month to withdraw from it. Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China, which also signed the Iran nuclear agreement along with the United States, have said they want to preserve it.
Iran informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Tuesday that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement. Macron on Tuesday also raised the issue of the Palestinian territories, expressing his “condemnation of any form of violence toward civilians and in particular, these past few weeks in Gaza.”
Both leaders then headed to the nearby Grand Palais to inaugurate an exhibit on Israeli innovations, as part of a series of events commemorating the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. A few dozen protesters appeared on the city’s Champs-Elysees Avenue near the exhibit site to demand the cancellation of the events and to denounce what they called Israel’s “war crimes.”
French police were out in force around the Grand Palais, breaking up groups of protesters. Netanyahu started his European trip in Berlin on Monday. After his French visit he heads to Britain to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May in an effort to rally support from allies against Iran.