Spookception: US spied on Israel spying on US-Iran nuke talks

'I think the report is wrong, it is inaccurate' says everyone named in report

Israel spied on the recent US-Iran nuclear talks, alleges America. And the US knows enough about it to say it publicly because the NSA is spying on Israel, along with everyone else.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Israel handed over confidential information from the negotiations to friendly members of the US Congress in a bid to derail any deal.

Israel denies the accusations, which highlight a widening gulf between Binyamin Netanyahu’s hawkish government in Israel and the Obama administration.

The talks began in 2012 as part of an attempt to resolve a decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Israel has consistently warned that Iran is developing expertise in nuclear materials primarily to develop a bomb. For a long time the US shared these concerns, which led to the development of the infamous Stuxnet nuke centrifuge buster malware and related programmes around 2010.

The world turns and strategic priorities have moved on. These days Iran is an ally in the fight against Middle Eastern terrorist group the Islamic State so the US wants to talk. Israel, unsurprisingly, wants to snoop on these talks.

The apparent decision by the White House to leak the allegations of Israeli spying comes a week before a deadline to produce a framework agreement from the ongoing negotiations in Switzerland. American diplomats have reportedly been briefed by US counter-intelligence about precautions that they would need to make in order to frustrate Israeli snooping.

Although the US has an intel sharing arrangement with Israel that makes it one of its closest allies outside the Anglophone Five Eyes alliance, the country is also regarded as among the biggest threats outside of Russia, China and France.

The US learned of the Israeli spying operation after it spotted Israeli officials exchanging classified info related to the Iran-US negotiations. Spying is all part of the grand game but what seems to have particularly narked the American is the use of stolen intelligence to brief Congress in a bid to sabotage the ongoing talks.

“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 US official told the WSJ.

Israel denied spying on the nuclear negotiations directly, implying it had obtained a low-down on what was going on during the talks via an unnamed third-party source.

“I think the report is wrong, it is inaccurate,” outgoing Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli Army Radio, The Guardian reports. "All the information we gathered was from another entity, not the US. We reached a decision a long time ago not to spy on the US and I haven’t come across anyone who has violated that instruction in several decades.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, denied receiving any information from Israel, expressing bafflement about the WSJ's report. Other US legislators on both sides of the political divide said that they were briefed on negotiations only by the Obama administration.

Accusations of Israeli spying on the US are not in themselves new.

Israeli spies allegedly snooped on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s phone calls during a Middle East last year.

The IDF tapped the US Secretary of State's unencrypted calls while trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority during a period of conflict in Gaza. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022