Axios reported on Wednesday that White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan expressed concern to his Israeli counterpart about Israel leaking information to the press about the US and Iran holding indirect talks to reach an interim agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran has publicly confirmed that it held indirect talks with the US in Oman, but the Biden administration has not. The administration also denied reports that said that the US and Iran were close to an agreement for Tehran to reduce uranium enrichment levels in exchange for some sanctions relief and a potential prisoner swap.
But Israeli officials were speaking openly about the potential agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Knesset lawmakers that the US and Iran were working on a “mini agreement.”
Citing unnamed US and Israeli officials, the Axios report said Sullivan and Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi had a “tough call” last week about Israel leaking the information. An Israeli official said that Sullivan expressed frustration about Netanyahu’s remarks.
The Biden administration has tried to stay quiet about the potential deal with Iran because Iran hawks in Congress, which included most Republicans and some Democrats, would oppose any agreement with the Islamic Republic, especially if it involves sanctions relief.
A Western official previously told Reuters that one reason for Washington seeking an agreement with Tehran is to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran. Israeli officials are constantly threatening Iran over its nuclear program but are against any deals that would reduce its nuclear enrichment.
Despite Israeli claims, there’s no sign that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, something the Pentagon acknowledged in its Nuclear Posture Review that was issued last year. Iran is currently enriching some uranium at 60% but has never attempted enriching at the 90% level needed for weapons-grade.