White House: Netanyahu Speech Won’t Complicate Iran Talks

March 3, 2015  

The White House said on Monday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress, scheduled for Tuesday, is unlikely to complicate ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.

“It shouldn’t, and it’s because the international community is united as we continue to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing, according to the Reuters news agency.

He was reiterating comments he made last Friday, when he indicated that the Obama administration does not see Netanyahu’s visit to Washington as bad for the negotiations between Iran and world powers.

Netanyahu’s speech is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon (Washington time), and a senior official in the Prime Minister’s entourage said Sunday that Netanyahu plans to unveil some specific details of the agreement between Iran and the West during his Congress speech.

“We know a great deal about the emerging agreement,” the official said, adding, “In our view, it is a bad agreement.” 

Responding to those comments earlier on Monday, top spokespeople for President Barack Obama’s administration echoed warnings that a release of classified information on Iran talks would be a “betrayal”.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday said that discussing the contents of classified briefings by U.S. officials to Israelis would “betray” America’s trust.

“We’ve continuously provided detailed classified briefings to Israeli officials to keep them updated and to provide context for how we are approaching getting to a good deal,” she told reporters in Washington. “Any release of any kind of information like that would, of course, betray that trust.”

That message was subsequently reiterated by Earnest, who said the White House is “concerned” at how unnamed Israeli officials in several recent reports are using information to “distort” America’s negotiating position with Iran.

He said their doing so “is something that is counter-productive, and that we are not appreciative of to put it mildly.”

“The United States has been providing our Israeli allies regular detailed classified briefings to give them the context about the progress that we’re making in the context of these conversations” with Iran, said Earnest.

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