In an unusual step, the Israeli spy agency Mossad released an official statement on Thursday afternoon in which it denied that it opposes imposing additional sanctions on Iran, as reported in a Bloomberg report earlier in the day.
The Mossad statement said, "Mossad chief Tamir Pardo met with a delegation of American senators on January 19, 2015. The meeting was held at the request of the senators and with the approval of the prime minister. Contrary to the report, the head of the Mossad did not say that he opposed additional sanctions on Iran. The Mossad chief emphasized in the meeting the remarkable efficacy of the sanctions imposed on Iran over the last few years in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
"The Mossad chief stated that when negotiating with Iran, the 'carrots and sticks' approach needs to be taken and at present, there aren't enough 'sticks.' The Mossad chief noted that without strong pressure, it would not be possible to bring to meaningful compromises from the Iranian side.
"As for the use of the term 'grenade', the Mossad chief did not use that with regards to imposing sanctions, which, as mentioned, he considers to be the 'sticks' that would aid in achieving a good agreement. He used this term to describe the possibility of creating a temporary crisis in the talks, at the end of which the negotiations will be renewed under better terms. The Mossad chief specifically stated that the agreement currently being formulated with Iran is bad and might lead to a regional arms race."
The Bloomberg report was published after US House Speaker John Boehner invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak in front of Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat. Netanyahu has been urging the American administration to harden its sanctions policy. The Obama administration, Bloomberg reported, has been using the internal divide between the Mossad and Netanyahu to torpedo the bi-partisan proposal, penned by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has teamed up with Lindsay Graham and John McCain to propose a bill requiring the White House bring any deal with Iran to a vote in Congress.
The Obama administration opposes both measures and has warned the Senate to stay away from the delicate negotiations between Iran and world powers.
According to the report, Mossad officials have briefed the White House, as well as Republican legislators, on their opposition to the Kirk-Menendez bill, which would implement new sanctions on Iran if the negotiations fail to yield results by June 30 or the Islamic Republic fails to live up to its commitments.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, has expressed his support for the legislation, in particular, and sanctions on Iran, in general.
Evidence to Israeli interference in the Iran-US talks comes from comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said an unnamed Israeli intelligence official had said the new sanctions bill would be "like throwing a grenade into the process." When Menendez heard about the Mossad briefing, he demanded clarifications from Israel's Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.