Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of splitting the nuclear deal in order to “blackmail” the international community into relieving economic pressure on the Islamic republic.

“This week Iran openly violated the nuclear deal by increasing the stockpile of enriched uranium (to beyond that) allowed under the deal,” Netanyahu said while attending an early reception of United States Independence Day that will be celebrated on July 4, 2019.

Netanyahu further said, “They’re hoping, that regime, that by violating the deal it will be able to blackmail the world into making concessions and reducing the economic pressure on it.

“We should do the exact opposite. Now is the time to increase the pressure. Now is the time to stand firm,” he added.

Iran’s move has been seen as a way of exerting pressure on Europe to try and salvage the deal which has hung by a thread since US President Donald Trump last year withdrew from the accord and reimposed biting sanctions on Tehran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also urged Europe to increase pressure on Iran on Tuesday.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely for civilian purposes.

Israel is considered the leading military power in the Middle East and is widely believed to possess its sole if undeclared, nuclear arsenal.