Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned a European Union response on Monday
to Iran's breaches of nuclear limitations, saying it recalled failed diplomacy
with Nazi Germany ahead of World War Two.
"(It) reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s," Netanyahu said in a video statement after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said none of the parties to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran saw its increased uranium enrichment as "significant non-compliance."
"Then, too, there were those who stuck their head in the sand and did not see the approaching danger," said Netanyahu, who has often cast Iran's nuclear projects as a mortal menace to Israel and the wider world. Iran denies seeking a nuclear bomb.
"It seems there are those in Europe who will not wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles land on European soil. But then it will be too late, of course," Netanyahu said.
Israel's main ally the United States quit the Iran nuclear deal last year, deeming it insufficient. That left Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany as parties to the deal.
Israel has predicted that, should European powers join Washington in reimposing sanctions on Tehran, the Iranians could be prompted to enter talks on a more limiting nuclear accord.
Alluding to Israel's long-standing if veiled threat of a last-resort war against its arch-foe, Netanyahu said: "In any event, we will continue to do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran getting nuclear weaponry."
Earlier on Monday, the European Union's foreign policy chief said that the remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran's breaches as significant non-compliance and have not indicated any intent to trigger the accord's dispute mechanism.
The UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran earlier this month violated the accord by enriching uranium to 4.5% fissile purity, above the 3.67% limit set by the 2015 deal, and exceeding limits on its stock of low-enriched uranium.
"For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signaled their intention to invoke this article," Federica Mogherini told a news conference in Brussels. "(It) means that none of them for the moment, for the time being with the current data we have had in particular from the IAEA, that the non-compliance is considered to be significant non-compliance."
Under the terms of the deal, if any party believes another is not upholding their commitments, they can refer the issue to a Joint Commission, whose members are Iran, Russia, China, the three European powers, and the European Union.
This begins a process that can eventually end with the restoration of global, United Nations sanctions on Iran. Mogherini said a joint commission meeting was possible, although when and at what level had yet to be decided.
Speaking after an EU foreign ministers meeting that was largely focused on Iran, Mogherini played down those prospects, suggesting that for now the bloc would focus on diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis.
"The deal is not in good health, but it's still alive," Mogherini said. "We hope and we invite Iran to reverse these steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement," she said, pointing out that they were all reversible.
There were no formal conclusions on what action should next be taken. But by appearing to suggest that Iran's non-compliance was not significant, it could anger the United States, which last week warned it would add further sanctions on Iran over its breaches.
The crisis mushroomed after US President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the deal, saying it was flawed to Iran's advantage, and reimposed a panoply of US sanctions to force Iran to agree to stricter limits on its nuclear program and measures to curb its ballistic missile and regional activities.
Iran curtailed its program to enrich uranium – widely seen as a disguised bid to develop nuclear weapons capacity, which Tehran denies – in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.
Mogherini also said the shareholders of a barter-based trade conduit with Iran that now includes 10 EU members were considering whether to include oil, something that until now has been ruled out given the threat of US sanctions.
"Even if I think this is the most dramatic and difficult time, I also think that today everybody realizes that not having the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) in place anymore would be a terrible option for everybody," Mogherini said.