Israel spied on confidential talks last year between Iran and the US on Tehran's nuclear program, then used the information gathered to campaign against a deal, White House officials say. The ruse was discovered when US intel agencies spying on Israel intercepted messages with details on the closed-door talks. It is believed Israel also learned of confidential US briefings and informants in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reports. But what really angered US officials, they say, was that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer shared details of the talks with US lawmakers to warn against a deal shortly before an interim agreement was signed in November 2013 and continued to do so leading up to Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Congress. "It is one thing for the US and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal US secrets and play them back to US legislators to undermine US diplomacy," a senior official tells the Journal.
Officials allege Dermer and others revealed classified information, including that Iran would be allowed to operate 6,500 centrifuges and deploy advanced IR-4 centrifuges, but failed to mention that Iran was asked to get rid of nuclear material stockpiles and slow its most advanced centrifuges. A rep for the Israeli embassy in Washington says Dermer "never shared confidential intelligence information with members of Congress." A senior Israeli official says claims of spying are "utterly false. The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel's other allies." Israeli officials claim information came from France, the UK, and surveillance of Iranian leaders, the Journal reports. US officials say Israel was briefed on talks with Iran last year and eventually learned of a potential deal in November; it was rejected by Iran, but Netanyahu became convinced that the US was pursuing a deal that wouldn't serve Israel's interests. (Read more Israel stories.)