Kerry warns Netanyahu against revealing Iran talks details

Secretary of state ‘concerned’ that PM’s speech will include specific information of the emerging agreement with Tehran

US Secretary of State John Kerry (photo credit: AFP/Evan Vucci, Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (photo credit: AFP/Evan Vucci, Pool)

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday appeared to warn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against revealing in his upcoming speech to the US Congress details of an Iran nuclear deal that world powers are currently negotiating.

While he did not mention Netanyahu by name, Kerry told reporters in Geneva he was “concerned by reports” that “selective details” of the deal would be revealed, after an Israeli official said Jerusalem knew about the emerging agreement and that the prime minister would elaborate in his congressional address.

Earlier on Monday, a senior official traveling with Netanyahu said that the prime minister would reveal details from the emerging nuclear deal with Iran to “uninformed” US lawmakers during his speech Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told reporters covering the prime minister’s trip that Israel knows more about the agreement with Iran than many members of Congress.

“We know many details from the agreement being put together, details that we feel members of Congress are unaware of,” the official said. “According to the information we have, the deal currently taking shape will leave Iran with the capability to build a nuclear weapon, if Khamenei will make a decision to do so.”

The official said Netanyahu would reveal some details of the agreement during his speech before both houses of Congress.

“We are not here to offend President [Barack] Obama whom we respect very much,” said a Netanyahu adviser, who was not authorized to be identified. “The prime minister is here to warn, in front of any stage possible, the dangers” of the deal that may be taking shape.

Late last month, the White House and State Department swiftly denied a report that said the US was pursuing a deal with Iran that would freeze its ability to produce a nuclear weapons for 10 years before allowing it to ramp up enrichment activities.

However, Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have said the deal being put together will be dangerous to Israel and the Western world.

Kerry is due to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux later Monday for talks on the Iran agreement.

“The best way to deal with the question surrounding this nuclear program is to find a comprehensive deal, but not a deal which comes at any costs,” he told reporters.

“We have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go, and the clock is ticking.”

The P5+1 group of world powers that are negotiating with Iran have until March 31 to reach a framework for a deal, which would then be firmed up and officially signed on June 30.

But Israel is worried that the deal will ease sanctions on Tehran — which is what Iran wants — without applying sufficiently stringent safeguards against Iran developing an atomic bomb.

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