Photo: AFP
Netanyahu at Congress
Photo: AFP

Report: Netanyahu tried to prevent Mossad briefing for US Senators on Iran

TIME magazine reports that day before announcing his controversial US Congress speech, Netanyahu tried to prevent a group of US lawmakers from meeting with head of Mossad who planned to warn them against more Iran sanctions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to prevent a group of US Senators visiting Israel from meeting the head of Israel's foreign intelligence service because the two were in disagreement regarding Iran, TIME magazine said in an exclusive report published late Saturday.



According to the report, the Senators were slated to meet with Tamir Pardo, head of Israel's Mossad, where they were reportedly expected to hear of the dangers of more sanctions on Iran.


The report claimed that while Netanyahu supported the idea of additional US-led sanctions on Iran, the Mossad thought they ran the risk of derailing nuclear negotiations. The report cited sources familiar with the events.


Netanyahu addresses joint meeting of Congress, March 3, 2015 (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Netanyahu addresses joint meeting of Congress, March 3, 2015 (Photo: AFP)


TIME reported that Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had requested the briefing for six fellow lawmakers visiting Israel at the end of January so that the Mossad could warn them against Senate-led sanction proposal.


Upon learning of the event, Netanyahu’s office reportedly removed the meeting from the schedule. In response, Corker reportedly threatened to cut his own visit short.


Only after Netanyahu confidante and Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, intervened was the event put back on the schedule, TIME said citing unnamed sources.


The meeting with Pardo took place and Corker attended together with Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Barrasso, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Joe Donnelly, and Independent Senator Angus King.


This is not the first time the Mossad and Netanyahu have been at odds of Iran's nuclear program, especially in regards to the US.


As part of Al Jazeera and the Guardian's recent reports of secret leaked diplomatic cables, two weeks after Netanyahu addressed the US Congress in 2012 and claimed Iran was a year away from a bomb, the Mossad told with South Africa that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons."


According to the interim deal reached between Iran and the world powers last November, no new sanctions can be implemented.


The bill in question was proposed by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez and would have imposed new sanctions on Iran if it failed to reach a long-term deal by June 30.


According to Bloomberg news, US intelligence concluded that the Kirk-Menendez bill ran the risk of derailing talks and with them the interim deal. Corker wanted the Mossad briefing to back the assumption.


At the meet, Pardo likened the bill to “throwing a grenade” into the diplomatic process.


However, Netanyahu has been extremely vocal in his support of maintaining sanctions on Iran and cited cheap oil as a prime reason why the US and other powers could afford to hold off on signing a "bad" nuclear deal with Iran ahead of an end-March deadline for a framework agreement.


During his US Congress speech, Netanyahu said Iran was more desperate for a deal and would not walk away from talks. "They'll be back because they need the deal a lot more than you do," he told lawmakers.


Sanctions have halved Iran's oil exports to just over 1 million barrels per day since 2012, spurring inflation and unemployment that the Obama administration has credited for forcing Iran into negotiations.


Reuters contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 03.15.15, 09:30
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