Netanyahu Warns Merkel Iran Meddling Will Spark New Refugee Crisis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with French leaders Tuesday in Paris as he continues efforts to persuade European leaders to alter the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

Netanyahu began his three-day European tour Monday in Germany, where he warned Chancellor Angela Merkel Iranian meddling in the Middle East could spark massive new refugee flows to Europe.

Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with Merkel, the Israeli leader said Tehran wants to conduct a religious campaign in largely Sunni Syria by using Shi'ite militias under its control to convert Sunni Muslims.

"This will inflame another religious war -- this time a religious war inside Syria and the consequences will be many, many more refugees. And you know where exactly they will come," he said.

Germany and other European nations saw an influx of more than one million migrants, creating deep political divisions and fueling the rise of far-right parties.

Merkel said she agreed that Iran's activities in the Middle East were a concern but defended the nuclear deal as a way of thwarting Tehran's nuclear and regional ambitions. Europeans and Israel were, she said, "united by the goal that Iran must never get a nuclear weapon." She added, "We support Israel's right to security and have said this to Iran at all times."

Netanyahu will meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.

Britain, France and Germany agreed to the deal with Iran in 2015 along with Russia, China and the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced last month the United States was pulling out of what he called a "horrible, one-sided deal," while saying he wants additional restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program and what he called its "destabilizing activities in the Middle East."

The other signatories have expressed a desire to keep the nuclear deal in place, saying it is working. Britain, France and Germany have suggested addressing other concerns about Iran through a supplemental agreement.

Like Trump, Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of the deal, saying the agreement left Iran with the potential to quickly develop a nuclear weapon when the terms expire.

Iran, which won sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear program, has said repeatedly its nuclear activity was solely peaceful in nature.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement was illegal and he urged the other signatories not to follow suit.

State-run Iranian media said Zarif sent a letter to the foreign ministers of the remaining nations. He asked them to "make up" for the Iranian losses brought on by the U.S. withdrawal if they want to save the deal.

Zarif called the 2015 nuclear agreement the result of "accurate, sensitive and balanced multilateral talks."

"The illegal withdrawal of the U.S. government...especially bullying methods used by this government to bring other governments in line, has discredited the rule of law while challenging the principles of the U.N. Charter and efficiency of international bodies,

Source: Voice of America