Israel’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen was invited to join two top US officials for dinner in Washington on June 15 to try and make Israel’s case for amending the disastrous nuclear accord taking shape in Vienna between the six world powers and Iran, before it was too late. This meeting is reported here by debkafile for the first time. It was hosted by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and senior US nuclear negotiator Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman.
The occasion was arranged by CIA Director John Brennan at the end of his visit to Jerusalem in the first week of June. He had come to offer senior Israelis, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a behind-the-scenes briefing on the provisions the Obama administration had accepted for the final nuclear accord with Iran due to be signed by June 30.
This briefing was greeted in Jerusalem with shock and alarm. Very few of the conditions for a deal stipulated by the US upon embarking on the negotiations had survived: Iran would continue to enrich uranium, be allowed to bar international inspections of military facilities suspected of hosting nuclear research activity (where were Obama's "intrusive inspections?) and – Israeli officials heard this for the first time – the Iranian UCF facility at Isfahan would be expanded. This plant is engaged in the conversion of “yellow cake” to enriched nuclear material.
They also discovered that President Obama, who had originally promised the deal would provide for “snapping sanctions back” in the event of violations, had assured Tehran that once sanctions were lifted, they would not be re-imposed.
Netanyahu asked Brennan for time to digest the full extent of the Obama administration’s retreat in the face of Iran’s nuclear aspirations. He then asked for his national security adviser to be given a chance to propose changes that would allay some of Israel’s concerns.
Brennan quickly set up a date for Cohen to be received in Washington.
debkafile’s Washington sources reveal that at the dinner in Washington, the Israeli official tried a new tack with his hostesses, Rice and Sherman. On the understanding that the main clauses of the nuclear accord had been finalized and gone past the stage of amendment, he nonetheless suggested a number of insertions in the various clauses that would make it a better deal for American as well as Israeli security.
Rice and Sherman politely allowed him to finish talking and then turned his proposals down flat.
US and Israeli official sources agree that the invitation to Cohen had not been intended for any serious discussion between the two governments on the Iranian nuclear issue. The two top American officials dealing with the nuclear question barely heard a word that Cohen said. His journey to Washington was a complete waste of time.