Just days before President Donald Trump's deadline to announce if the U.S. will continue or not with the nuclear deal reached with Iran, it was revealed that his team hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to spy on top ranking officials that helped broker the deal during the Obama administration.
The private and professional lives of Ben Rhodes, one of Obama's national security advisers for strategic communications, and Colin Kahl, former Vice President Joe Biden's national security adviser, both of whom played key roles in reaching the agreement, were investigated by the private spies in order to “get dirt” on them and discredit the overall deal reached with Iran.
Investigators were reportedly told to research their personal lives, political careers, relationships or benefits they could have obtained from reaching the deal, according to documents obtained by The Observer, the Sunday edition of the British newspaper The Guardian.
Trump has been threatening to pull out from the Iran Nuclear Deal, which he has dubbed “the worst deal ever,” and said he will announce his final decision on May 12.
The Israeli investigators were reportedly contacted by Trump's aides after his visit to Israel in May 2017, in which he promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. would never allow Iran to develop or possess nuclear weapons.
The Guardian reported that the investigators were also ordered to investigate several journalists and media outlets covering the deal process at the time -including the New York Times, MSNBC Television, the Atlantic, Vox and Haaretz- in order to find out if Kahl, Rhodes, or any other chief negotiators had leaked sensitive or classified information to the journalists, thus committing a crime.
The Guardian also says there's no further information about how much work was actually undertaken by the investigators, how long the investigation lasted or what was done with the information compiled.
On Monday Netanyahu offered a press conference in English, mainly aimed at a foreign audience and specifically at Trump, in which he declared Israeli intelligence got tens of thousands of documents proving that Iran didn't let go og their ambitions to develop nuclear weapons.
Experts, however, didn't see anything new in Netanyahu's findings, and stated the “evidence” corresponded to old information that was already known at the time of reaching the deal. One Vienna-based diplomat who has dealt with the IAEA for years, when asked what he made of Netanyahu’s speech, said: "Nothing new. Theatrics."
"Israel's amazing intelligence has not provided a smoking gun," said Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister and a frequent Netanyahu critic, told Army Radio. "All in all it is a big help for Trump ahead of the May 12 decision."
After Netanyahu spoke, Trump repeated his criticism of the deal, suggesting he backed the Israeli leader's remarks.
John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif two weeks ago to try and save the deal. Kerry reportedly also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. He was one of the key figures in planning and reaching the Iran deal.
The Iran Nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was ratified in Vienna on 2015 by Iran, the five permanent members of the Security Council, China, France, Russia, U.S., and the United Kingdom, as well as Germany and the European Union.