Wednesday, April 1, 2015


US acknowledges withholding information from Israel on Iran talks

The Times report dovetailed with one earlier in the week in The Washington Post, which said US officials are angry about alleged Israeli leaks that, in the negotiations, the US had increased the number of centrifuges it would allow Iran to retain from some 1,500 to more than 6,000.

Yet Psaki and her colleague at the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest, said their decision to withhold information from Israel is not new.

“Obviously, we work to protect sensitive information in the negotiations,” Psaki continued. Asked pointedly whether the US is withholding information from inside the talks from the Israelis, she said, “Correct.”

Washington’s acknowledgment of a gap in its briefings to Israel highlights growing space between the allies on the emerging agreement with Iran, aggressively sought by US President Barack Obama and opposed with equal vigor by Netanyahu.

Yet, despite the revelation, Israel still knows the details of the emerging deal, the prime minister said earlier on Wednesday.

“While Islamic State butchers the innocent, the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of destroying the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the outset of a meeting with freshman Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia.

Netanyahu repeated Israel’s position that the world powers’ latest proposals to the Iranians would not halt their nuclear march.

“The Iranians, of course, know the details of that proposal, and Israel does, too,” he said. “So when we say that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal, a dangerous deal, we know what we’re talking about, senator. I’m open to hearing the positions and arguments of those who think differently, and I would hope that they would be open to hear the arguments of Israel as well.”

The Times and Washington Post reports both hinted at a certain disingenuousness of the supposed leaks, which on the surface would indicate that the Iranians would be able to retain a large portion of their nuclear infrastructure.

For instance, the Times quoted an American official as saying the number of centrifuges only tells part of the story. “What they don’t tell you is that we only let them have that many centrifuges if they ship most of their fuel out of the country,” the official said.

One Israeli official responded to the charge that Israel was “cherry- picking” the information, by saying that “we see no way that 6,000 or 7,000 centrifuges can be okay, irrespective of other elements in the package.”

The official, phrasing his comments very carefully, said that “in the past we understood from our interlocutors from the P5+1 that the goal of the negotiation was that Iran would be kept years away from a breakout capacity.”

Then, he said, that time period was change to “more than a year.”

“What we understand now is that today they are talking about a year,” he said. “If true, that is a very problematic dynamic.”

Asked how Israel could know the details of the accord if it is not been given all the information, the official said, “We cover Iran very closely.” He did not elaborate.

Up until Wednesday, both US and Israeli officials on the record have denied that there has been any reduction in the cooperation and coordination between the two sides.

With that, though, high-level officials on both sides have acknowledged concern that the exchange of information will not be as good as in the past, for fear that the information shared might be used by the other side to pursue its own political agenda: with Israel using the information it gets from the negotiators to lobby against the deal, and the US using intelligence information provided by Israel to push the agreement forward. READ ARTICLE HERE

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