Mossad denies urging U.S. senators to oppose new Iran sanctions


TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency has denied reports that it urged U.S. senators to vote against placing additional sanctions on Iran.

In a statement Thursday, the Mossad denied a Bloomberg View report that it opposes a U.S. Senate bill that would place additional sanctions on Iran should U.S.-led talks on ending the Iranian nuclear program fail. The statement praised the effectiveness of current sanctions and said strong pressure on Iran is necessary for the negotiations to succeed.

“Contrary to what has been reported, the Head of the Mossad did not say that he opposes imposing additional sanctions on Iran,” the statement read. “The Head of the Mossad emphasized in the meeting [with U.S. senators] that the exceptional effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years are what brought Iran to the negotiating table.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favors added sanctions on Iran, but President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday that he would veto the sanctions measure if it reaches his desk.

Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) have both alluded recently to Mossad opposition to the bill, Bloomberg View reported. The Mossad statement, however, said that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo’s words were misinterpreted in a recent meeting with U.S. officials.

“We met with a number of government officials from many different parts of the [Israeli] government,” Barrasso told Bloomberg View. “There’s not a uniform view there.”

Bloomberg View reported that a separate measure that would give the Senate a vote on any accord with Iran over its nuclear program has broader approval from Israeli officials.

Negotiations over the nuclear program are slated to resume in February.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress regarding Iran. On Thursday, it was announced that the address would take place in early March.

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