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Were all secrets regarding Iran nuclear talks exposed?

It is not known how much information was leaked during the U.S.-Iran talks or how

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

It is said the Israelis did not miss the chance to spy on what was going on at Swiss hotels where American and Iranian negotiators met to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. What was leaked and published has shocked negotiators’ friends, exposed the negotiators and ruined what they had been hoping to hide from three groups: Republican opponents in the U.S. Congress, Israel and Arab Gulf states.

The U.S. delegation made sure not to inform its allies, such as Israel and Gulf states, of the negotiations’ developments. This mysteriousness has increased doubts about what the Americans will grant the Iranians and vice versa

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The leaks forced the Americans and Iranians to amend their plans. There is speculation that they have still managed to hide some secrets. Although Washington has provided assurances, some in the Arab Gulf still have doubts.

It is said the Israelis planted an electronic virus in the computers of all three hotels to gather information. The Russians reportedly exposed the intrusion via a company specialized in anti-spyware technology. Although the Israelis are the best at developing hacking technologies, it is unlikely that they only gathered information electronically.

Well-informed source

They probably also attained it via a participant or a well-informed source in the American or even Iranian delegations, as there are Iranian regime figures who are against the agreement, and some who are against the regime itself. Maybe hinting that infiltration was electronic aims to hide the tracks of those who leaked the information.

Electronic espionage can be done by accessing cell phones, computers, laptops, phone networks, electronic alarms and surveillance cameras. However, it is unlikely that negotiators are that dumb to allow such equipment into their meetings. Many sensitive official institutions completely ban cell phones, computers and laptops inside negotiation rooms and private offices.

My hunch is that the leaked information came from a person from either party. Even if the negotiating teams and those serving them are monitored by their governments, this does not prevent leaking secrets to a third party. Most negotiators are aware of the possibility of being infiltrated electronically or by someone. Secrets do not last in negotiations, and politicians’ best option is to be open and transparent.

Academy Award

What made the situation more suspicious is that the U.S. delegation made sure not to inform its allies, such as Israel and Gulf states, of the negotiations’ developments. This mysteriousness has increased doubts about what the Americans will grant the Iranians and vice versa.

Israel’s success in exposing these secrets surprised the Americans. The Israelis did not spare any effort to expose details of U.S. concessions, to the point where negotiations would have ended had the American administration not rushed to correct and clarify its stance. This is why it held the Camp David meeting with Arab Gulf leaders.

I do not think there are important secrets that have not yet been revealed regarding the nuclear talks. However, if we later realize we have been wrong about that, the American administration must be granted an Academy Award for its outstanding performance.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 17, 2015.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.