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Netanyahu apoplectic over warming Iran-UK ties

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out against a recent agreement between Iran and the UK to appoint non-resident chargés d’affaires after the relations between the two countries were severed nearly two years ago.

In an exclusive interview with Britain’s Sky News on Thursday, Netanyahu implored Britain not to move to restore diplomatic ties with Iran as long as Tehran did not recognize Israel.

He added that London should also insist that Iran dismantle what he claimed was its “nuclear weapons program.”

Iran and Britain agreed on October 8 to appoint non-resident chargés d’affaires as a first step towards reopening of embassies.

The development followed a September meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and British Foreign Secretary William Hague in New York, during which they discussed, among other issues, the improvement of Tehran-London relations.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said that in view of the Iranian parliament’s approval of a bill to downgrade Iran-UK ties, Tehran and London agreed to maintain ties at the level of non-resident chargés d’affaires.

On November 27, 2011, Iranian lawmakers voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, in response to Britain’s decision to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.

In the same month, hundreds of Iranian students staged a protest outside the British Embassy in Tehran and pulled down the UK flag. The relations were severed afterwards.

The US, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. The claims have been used as pretext to impose harsh sanctions on Iran.

Tehran has categorically rejected the allegation, arguing that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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