Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Scoop: Inside the U.S.-Israel talks on Iran

In the first round of U.S.-Israel strategic talks on Iran last week, senior national security and foreign policy officials laid down all they know about Iran's nuclear program, three senior Israeli officials familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Amid President Biden’s push for diplomatic reengagement with Iran, the U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue is intended to hash out differences in approach and coordinate on the path forward.


  • Israel’s first objective in the March 11 meeting was to arrive at a common baseline with the U.S. when it comes to intelligence on Iran.
  • As it happens, the intelligence pictures both sides presented about recent developments in Iran's nuclear program were almost identical.
  • “We are on the same page on the intelligence. There are small nuances but overall, they see data the same way. It was very positive, but it is only the beginning of a process. It will be a rollercoaster," a senior Israeli official told me.

The meeting was led by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat. The meeting was held over a secure videoconferencing system.

  • The meeting included senior officials from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council, State Department and other agencies on the U.S. side; and the Mossad intelligence agency, military intelligence, Atomic Energy Committee, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Defense on the Israeli side.
  • The forum began during the Obama presidency, when its existence was top secret, and continued under Trump, when the focus was on coordinating "maximum pressure" on Iran.
  • Sullivan proposed that the forum be resumed under Biden, who has promised to coordinate closely with Israel while pursuing the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal — which is completely at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position.

Behind the scenes: Israeli officials tell me they were satisfied by the discussions and noted that Sullivan and his team stressed the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon in the long term.

  • Sullivan promised that the U.S. would be transparent with Israel about its decisions on Iran, but expects the same level of transparency in return, the Israeli officials say.
  • Sullivan and his team were candid about the dilemmas they face in seeking diplomacy with Iran and the difficulties of engaging with the Iranians, the Israeli officials say.

Between the lines: Israeli officials say they are playing for time, hoping the Iranians will continue to reject U.S. proposals for engagement.

  • They hope that every day that passes with U.S. sanctions in place will make it more likely that the Iranians blink first and agree to make concessions before the U.S. lifts sanctions.

What’s next: One of the decisions that came from the meeting was to establish a special joint team that will focus on sharing intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program.

  • The Israeli officials said a second meeting of the strategic forum will take place in the coming weeks and will focus on Iran’s malign activities in the Middle East and its missile program.

Worth noting: The White House declined to comment beyond the official readout.

Liz Cheney says she regrets voting for Trump in 2020

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was ousted Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican, told ABC's "This Week" that she regrets voting for former President Trump in 2020, although she could never have supported Biden.

Why it matters: Cheney, voted out of House Republican leadership over her repeated condemnation of Trump and his unfounded claims of election fraud, plans to challenge the former president for ideological dominance of the GOP.

Keep reading... Show less

Blinken speaks with Associated Press CEO after Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza office

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt on Saturday after an Israeli airstrike destroyed the outlet's local media office in the Gaza Strip, which also housed the Al Jazeera office.

Why it matters: "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today" Pruitt said in a statement — as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues to bring more casualties.

Keep reading... Show less

Fashion

Consumers and retailers alike are still trying to figure out what Americans will want to wear as they head back out into the world after a year at home, in sweatpants.

Why it matters: The choices people make about their post-pandemic wardrobes will help define what, exactly, our “new normal” is. They'll indicate how both work and socializing have changed, and will tell the story of how people expressed themselves in the aftermath of a year of massive transformation.

Keep reading... Show less

UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as Netanyahu vows to continue strikes

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

Keep reading... Show less

In photos: Protesters rally across U.S. and the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Keep reading... Show less

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.

Keep reading... Show less

Colonial Pipeline resumes normal operations after ransomware hack

Colonial Pipeline resumed normal operations on Saturday after a ransomware attack forced the pipeline to shut down last week, the company announced.

Why it matters: The pipeline is now delivering fuel to states that had experienced gas shortages at the same capacities as before the extortion scheme hit the critical pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York and carries roughly 100 million gallons of fuel per day.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories