Report: Israel accused of spying on U.S. nuclear talks with Iran – and then leaking information to Congress to undermine deal
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/24/report-israel-spied-on-iran-u-s-talks-and-shared-information-with-lawmakers/?hpid=z3
By Fred Barbash March 24 at 5:27 AM
Israel obtained sensitive information about the nuclear talks between Iran and the United States and turned it over to members of Congress, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. It obtained the information both through “confidential” briefings from U.S. officials as well as from “informants, diplomatic contacts in Europe and eavesdropping,” the paper said.
Citing “current and former officials,” the paper said 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.”
The Journal said the “espionage” did not concern the White House “as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support” from the deal.
The White House learned of the operation, the paper reported, when U.S. intelligence agencies “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.”
Israel denied the charges, according to the Journal, which quoted a “senior official” in Netanyahu’s office calling the allegations “utterly false.”
But the Journal said its story was based on interviews with “more than a dozen” officials, including Israeli diplomats, intelligence officials and lawmakers.
Relations between the administration of President Obama and the government of Israel have become openly hostile in the past few months as a result of Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address the U.S. Congress. If the Journal’s story is accurate, there were plenty of other reasons for the tension as well.
It quoted a “senior U.S. official briefed on the matter,” saying that 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.”
Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.