The United States and five other major nations agreed to a historic nuclear deal with Iran amid a report that the U.S. and Iran held secret talks over the past year.
ABC News reports that the discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West, according to the Associated Press.
The talks, which were personally authorized by President Obama, were reportedly held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned.
Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.
The deal aimed at slowing Iran’s nuclear program was reached early Sunday morning in Geneva, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his disappointment.
“What was accomplished last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it’s a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, reported The Blaze. “Today the world has become much more dangerous, because the most dangerous regime in the world took a meaningful step toward acquiring the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
Netanyahu comments go against Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurances that the deal would make Israel and other U.S. allies safer, along with Obama’s assessment that the deal would open “a new path toward a world that is more secure.”
ABC News also reported that the deal provides Iran with about $7 billion in relief from international sanctions in exchange for Iranian curbs on uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity.