White House denies Obama threatened to down Israeli jets

National Security Council says Kuwaiti report is as false as leaks coming out of Iranian nuclear talks

Two Israeli F-15I 'Ra'am' fighter jets during maneuvers (CC BY-TSgt Kevin J. Gruenwald/USA/Wikimedia)
Two Israeli F-15I 'Ra'am' fighter jets during maneuvers (CC BY-TSgt Kevin J. Gruenwald/USA/Wikimedia)

The White House Sunday denied a Kuwaiti report that US President Barack Obama had threatened to shoot down Israeli jets heading toward Iran.

Taking a jab at Jerusalem, the National Security Council indicated the claim was as spurious as reports coming out of the nuclear negotiations with Iran about the content of an emerging deal.

“Like a lot rumors lately about Iran talks, there is no truth to ‘reports’ about Obama & Israeli jets,” read a statement from the NSC’s Twitter account.

A report in Kuwaiti paper al-Jarida Saturday claimed Israel had planned to attack Iranian nuclear sites in 2014 after hearing that Tehran and Washington were nearing a deal that would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium.

According to the report, which cited unnamed “well-placed sources,” an Israeli minister leaked the plan to US Secretary of State John Kerry, after which Obama threatened to shoot down the planes.

There was no Israeli reaction to the report, which came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to the US to deliver a controversial speech against an Iranian deal before the US Congress.

The visit has ramped up tensions between the prime minister and Obama, who opposed the speech, though Washington and Jerusalem both attempted to smooth over fraying ties Sunday as Netanyahu arrived in Washington.

Kerry on Sunday said he had no problem with Netanyahu’s visit, before taking off for Geneva, where he will meet with his Iranian counterpart to continue high-stakes talks over a nuclear compromise ahead of a March 31 deadline.

Officials have described the United States, Europe, Russia and China as considering a compromise that would see Iran’s nuclear activities severely curtailed for at least a decade, with the restrictions and US and Western economic penalties eased in the final years of a deal.

The White House and State Department both denied these details of the deal — details which had led Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, to describe the emerging agreement as dangerous for Israel and the West.

Kerry last week indicated critics of the deal like Netanyahu were uninformed about its details.

On Sunday, unnamed Israeli officials traveling with Netanyahu to the US told reporters that Israel was well-informed as to the contents of the agreement.

According to an official cited by Israeli news site Ynet, Netanyahu will use his Tuesday speech to reveal parts of the deal to US lawmakers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Most Popular
read more: