Fear of Israeli leaks fuels distrust over U.S. talks with Iran

The New York Times reports: With the Obama administration racing to negotiate the outlines of a nuclear deal with Iran by the end of March, aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have charged in recent days that they are being deliberately left in the dark about the details of the talks. The Americans have said that is untrue, but even one of Washington’s closest negotiating partners reports being warned about being too open with the Israelis, “because whatever we say may be used in a selective way.”

The tensions between the United States and Israel over negotiating with Tehran have a long and twisted history, and they plunged to a new low when Mr. Netanyahu engineered an invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress, in less than two weeks, to warn against a “bad deal.”

Now, with Mr. Netanyahu maneuvering to survive a March 17 election, and Mr. Obama pressing for a breakthrough agreement that could end three decades of enmity with Iran and reduce the chances of a military confrontation, it seems that Washington and Jerusalem are engaging in the diplomatic equivalent of posting notes to each other on the refrigerator door.

The latest dispute has been building since the Israeli news media began running stories about Mr. Netanyahu’s being frozen out of the briefings about the talks, sourced to unnamed Israeli officials. Some of the reports have been accompanied by partial details about how many centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, would be left spinning in Iran’s facilities under an American proposal — oftentimes omitting key facts about how quickly the centrifuges could produce bomb-grade fuel. [Continue reading…]

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