Israel accused of spying on Iran nuke talksspied' on the nuclear talks with Iran (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). I'm going to post a lot of this article, because it's not freely available online and I got it by email from another source.
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 U.S. and Israel, longtime allies who routinely swap information on security threats, sometimes operate behind the scenes like spy-versus-spy rivals. The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers—a posture Israel takes when the tables are turned.
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.
Using levers of political influence unique to Israel, Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer calculated that a lobbying campaign in Congress before an announcement was made would improve the chances of killing or reshaping any deal. They knew the intervention would damage relations with the White House, Israeli officials said, but decided that was an acceptable cost.
The campaign may not have worked as well as hoped, Israeli officials now say, because it ended up alienating many congressional Democrats whose support Israel was counting on to block a deal.
Obama administration officials, departing from their usual description of the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel, have voiced sharp criticism of Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer to describe how the relationship has changed.
“People feel personally sold out,” a senior administration official said. “That’s where the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.”THEY feel sold out? Well, BOO HOO. The Obama administration has done everything in its power over the last six years to weaken relations between the United States and Israel. They expect us to trust them? I'm thrilled that Netanyahu is capable of seeing and admitting that this administration is no friend of Israel, and last week's election results prove that most Israelis can see that there is a difference between our relations with the United States and the American people and our relations with this administration. Most Israelis didn't fall for the simplistic argument advanced by the Left that Netanyahu was ruining our relations with the United States.
As to the last sentence, that's yet another incentive for Israelis to work for a Republican candidate for President in 2016. Ted Cruz, who announced yesterday, would be excellent.
The article goes on to state that Israel might have spied because the Obama administration launched these talks in 2012 without telling us, and didn't tell us about them until September 2013 (gee, talk about creating mistrust). The article also says that Netanyahu's office denies that we spied on the US (we routinely spy on Iran, but the US knows that because they helped set up our system for doing so!).
Israeli officials, who said they had already learned about the talks through their own channels, told their U.S. counterparts they were upset about being excluded. “ ‘Did the administration really believe we wouldn’t find out?’ ” Israeli officials said, according to a former U.S. official.
The episode cemented Mr. Netanyahu’s concern that Mr. Obama was bent on clinching a deal with Iran whether or not it served Israel’s best interests, Israeli officials said. Obama administration officials said the president was committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Mr. Dermer started lobbying U.S. lawmakers just before the U.S. and other powers signed an interim agreement with Iran in November 2013. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Dermer went to Congress after seeing they had little influence on the White House.
Before the interim deal was made public, Mr. Dermer gave lawmakers Israel’s analysis: The U.S. offer would dramatically undermine economic sanctions on Iran, according to congressional officials who took part.
After learning about the briefings, the White House dispatched senior officials to counter Mr. Dermer. The officials told lawmakers that Israel’s analysis exaggerated the sanctions relief by as much as 10 times, meeting participants said.
When the next round of negotiations with Iran started in Switzerland last year, U.S. counterintelligence agents told members of the U.S. negotiating team that Israel would likely try to penetrate their communications, a senior Obama administration official said.
The U.S. routinely shares information with its European counterparts and others to coordinate negotiating positions. While U.S. intelligence officials believe secured U.S. communications are relatively safe from the Israelis, they say European communications are vulnerable.So maybe we didn't spy on the US. Maybe we spied on the Europeans. Or maybe the Europeans - or at least France - decided to tell us about it. Hey Obama - you keep saying that you're our ally and that you have our back and your party chaircritter keeps saying that she wears her support to Israel to work on her sleeve every day. So how can you keep something like this from us for a year? How can you do this behind our backs? It's our existence at stake - not yours! What do you expect us to do in response?
Or maybe we spied on Iran.
Current and former Israeli officials said their intelligence agencies can get much of the information they seek by targeting Iranians and others in the region who are communicating with countries in the talks.
In November, the Israelis learned the contents of a proposed deal offered by the U.S. but ultimately rejected by Iran, U.S. and Israeli officials said. Israeli officials told their U.S. counterparts the terms offered insufficient protections.And this story is apparently how Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress came about too.
In January, Mr. Netanyahu told the White House his government intended to oppose the Iran deal but didn’t explain how, U.S. and Israeli officials said.
On Jan. 21, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) announced Mr. Netanyahu would address a joint meeting of Congress. That same day, Mr. Dermer and other Israeli officials visited Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers and aides, seeking a bipartisan coalition large enough to block or amend any deal.
Mr. Dermer and other Israeli officials over the following weeks gave lawmakers and their aides information the White House was trying to keep secret, including how the emerging deal could allow Iran to operate around 6,500 centrifuges, devices used to process nuclear material, said congressional officials who attended the briefings.For the record, those 6,500 centrifuges (now apparently 6,000) aren't enough for any civilian nuclear use, but they are enough for nuclear weapons.
The Israeli officials told lawmakers that Iran would also be permitted to deploy advanced IR-4 centrifuges that could process fuel on a larger scale, meeting participants and administration officials said. Israeli officials said such fuel, which under the emerging deal would be intended for energy plants, could be used to one day build nuclear bombs.
When asked in February during one briefing where Israel got its inside information, the Israeli officials said their sources included the French and British governments, as well as their own intelligence, according to people there.
“Ambassador Dermer never shared confidential intelligence information with members of Congress,” Mr. Sagui said. “His briefings did not include specific details from the negotiations, including the length of the agreement or the number of centrifuges Iran would be able to keep.”'Current and former US officials' claim that Dermer did tell Congress those details.
All of this has come at a cost, and Israel is seeking new ways to defeat a deal with Iran.
Congressional aides and Israeli officials now say Israel’s coalition in Congress is short the votes needed to pass legislation that could overcome a presidential veto, although that could change. In response, Israeli officials said, Mr. Netanyahu was pursuing other ways to pressure the White House.
This week, Mr. Netanyahu sent a delegation to France, which has been more closely aligned with Israel on the nuclear talks and which could throw obstacles in Mr. Obama’s way before a deal is signed. The Obama administration, meanwhile, is stepping up its outreach to Paris to blunt the Israeli push.France has not been a better friend to Israel than the United States since the Eisenhower administration. Obama has 'succeeded' in turning back the clock.
One final comment. Obama is lucky this story didn't come out last Sunday or Monday. If it had, the Likud might have won 80 seats in last Tuesday's elections. This story doesn't make Obama into a victim (although I am sure that was the administration's intent in leaking it). This story makes Obama look petty, vindictive, and more than willing to abandon an ally that just happens to be the only democracy in a part of the world that is of critical interest to the United States.
Obama has won the title. He will go down in history as the worst President the United States has ever had.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, centrifuges, Iran sanctions regime, Iranian nuclear threat, John Boehner, joint session of Congress, P 5+1, Ron Dermer, uranium enrichment, US-Israel relationship