It has been revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed national security issues including Iran with U.S. President Donald Trump in a telephone conversation on Wednesday – the same day that the American leader threatened to “substantially” increase sanctions on Tehran.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the call, and said the two leaders discussed regional developments and security issues, focusing on the Islamic Republic. Prime Minister Netanyahu was said to have expressed his appreciation for President Trump’s intention to increase the sanctions on Iran.
White House spokesman Judd Deere also commented on the conversation, saying “The two leaders discussed cooperation between the United States and Israel in advancing shared national security interests, including efforts to prevent Iran’s malign actions in the region.”
Hostilities in the Persian Gulf have substantially deepened in recent weeks, including the alleged failure by Iranian vessels to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday. Royal Gibraltar Police announced the arrests of the captain and first mate of the Iranian Grace 1 oil tanker, detained in the British Overseas Territory since July 4th, en route to delivering 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.
Tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies have risen sharply since Washington stepped up economic sanctions against Iran and implemented a “maximum pressure” policy to cut the country’s oil exports to zero, as part of an overall campaign aimed at forcing Tehran to halt actions the White House and its ally Israel believes undermine regional security.
Iran has responded to the sanctions by breaching limits on its nuclear activities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 2015 deal with world powers, such as the enrichment of uranium at higher levels.
In addition, several foreign oil tankers were attacked in waters near Iran’s southern coast in May and June, for which Washington has blamed Tehran.
Last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone near the Strait of Hormuz, prompting President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes, which he called off a short time before launch due to estimated casualty rates.