WSJ: Israel Allegedly Spied on US Negotiations with Iran

Israeli PM Netanyahu and President Obama

This Wall Street Journal article, “Israel Spied on Iran Talks,” suggests accusations of spying by  Israel on  American negotiations with Iran is yet  another effort by the Obama Administration to isolate and blame Netanyahu for damaging the prospects for a P5+1 politvcal agreement with Iran.   An agreement that even the French  criticize for not being “fool proof”.  While Senior officials admit they knew about Israel shadowing the Iran talks, they were incensed when Israel took what information they acquired from various sources, including Iran and other P5+1 participants, to brief Congress on the realities of how bad a deal was emerging. The Administration was clearly incensed that Speaker Boehner invited Netanyahu to make an address on the controversial deal with Iran before a joint meeting of Congress on March 3rd,provoking adverse criticism from Democratic members of Congress and many quarters in the international mainstream media.

The author of the WSJ article wrote:

Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks. The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said. The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said. “It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter. The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said. Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said.”  (Read More)

If you were faced with an ally in secret negotiations with an enemy that threatened your existence, wouldn’t you seek out the facts about what was on the table under discussions that affected your nation’s security? As reflected in Sen. Cotton’s  letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,  co-signed by 46 Republican Senators, perhaps Netanyahu’s  public presentation and background briefings were the only way  Congress was going to understand the dangerous provisions in the Memorandum of Understanding under discussion that could severly  impact US national security. This latest disclosure looks part of a ploy to blame Israel for the ultimate failure to reach a deal with Iran’s Supreme Leader,  who, while demanding the lifting of financial sanctions upon signing  a political agreement,  holds rallies in Tehran with calls for ‘death to America”. That is why Netanyahu sent his Intelligence Minister and National Security Adviser to Paris to confer with Foreign Minister Fabius who is seeking “a fool proof deal.” Which in the vernacular appears to be as rare as hen”s teeth. With less than eight days remaining for a self-imposed deadline, we  bet that the rubbery deadline will be extended to the June 30 deadline for signing a definitive agreement. That is unless the deal falls apart because it is exposed as an appeasing sham facilitating Iran becoming a nuclear threshold hegemon.