Theresa May backs Iran nuclear deal during Netanyahu visit

Theresa May has signalled her continued support for the international nuclear deal with Iran, as her Israeli counterpart urged her to join Donald Trump in imposing fresh sanctions against Tehran.

Theresa May was urged to support fresh sanctions against Iran, but instead gave her backing to an existing deal. Picture: AFP/Daniel Leal Olivas

Visiting 10 Downing Street days after Iran test-fired a ballistic missile, Benjamin Netanyahu said that “responsible” nations should follow the US president’s lead to head off Iranian aggression.

While Mrs May has described the 2015 nuclear agreement as “vital” for the security of the region, Mr Netanyahu has long made clear he regards it as a bad deal which will do nothing to halt Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

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Speaking in front of TV cameras as they began talks at Number 10, the Israeli PM – who is due to meet Mr Trump in Washington next week – told Mrs May: “Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, it threatens the world. And it offers provocation after provocation.

“That’s why I welcome president Trump’s insistence on new sanctions against Iran. I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations. And I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure that Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.”

Following the meeting, Mrs May’s official spokeswoman said that the PM had “made clear that we support the deal on nuclear that was agreed”.

The deal, under which sanctions were lifted in return for Tehran giving up its military nuclear ambitions, had “neutralised the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade”, said the spokeswoman.

Mrs May made clear that her top priority for the talks with Israel was exploring the potential for a deeper commercial relationship after the UK has left the EU. They agreed to set up a UK-Israel trade working group, with trade minister Lord Price to visit Israel soon to take discussions forward.

Mrs May told MPs that she had raised the issue of Israeli settlement-building on occupied Palestinian land during the meeting.

Challenged on the issue by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons, Mrs May said: “I have made the UK government’s position clear on settlements and I continued to do that today.”