US Vice President Joe Biden when he met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday night, Jan. 13, refused to level with him on the detailed agreements which the Americans claimed were reached by the six powers and Iran in their talks earlier this week on the implementation of their first-stage Geneva accord. This is reported by debkafile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources. It was the first time US President Barack Obama personally vetoed a briefing to Israel on the content of the international nuclear negotiations he instigated – notwithstanding his private and public pledges to Netanyahu of “full transparency.”
This secretiveness has stirred concern and mistrust in Jerusalem on two grounds:
1. It denotes a sharp decline in the strategic relations between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government and leaves Israel in the dark on an issue of vital concern to its security.
2. It is suspected that there is no implementation agreement at all and that the US President, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are repeating the performance they put on three months ago in Geneva. Then, they presented a very general framework of non-binding clauses reached between the six powers and Iran as a genuine, full-fledged, interim accord, when in reality it omitted the details on how and when Iran would dismantle the military side of its nuclear program, and inter alia neglected to address the critical issue of Iran’s nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
Tehran itself has contradicted these assertions as “misleading," referring specifically to the White House statement of Jan. 12 which said: “From Jan. 20, Iran will for the first time start eliminating its stockpile of higher level enriched uranium and dismantling some of the infrastructure that makes such enrichment possible.”
Three days later, on Tuesday, Jan 15. Iran’s lead negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi, went on national television with a less than polite denial: “…different interpretations come out of a single document and that is natural,” he said. “But we had better try to have common interpretations, and that is why during the talks we paused a couple of times and continued with the participation of the higher levels.”
Homing in on the White House term “dismantling,” Aragchi countered: “We are aware of Mr. Obama’s problems in Congress, but ‘dismantling’ abuses the word after the recent deal.”
In the light of the conflicting versions coming out the White House and Tehran – and Joe Biden’s refusal to level with Netanyahu on the latest rounds of nuclear talks – Israel is left wondering what in fact US-led international nuclear diplomacy has achieved in the way of curbing Iran’s progress toward a bomb – if anything.
The coming DEBKA Weekly out next Friday, Jan. 17, will offer some pointed answers to those questions. We will also show how President Obama’s policies have opened the door for a major Iranian political offensive in the Middle East, which gives Tehran free rein to meddle profoundly in the affairs of Iraq and Lebanon in addition to Syria.
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