US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, US, September 18, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Top US and Israeli national security officials reached an agreement two weeks ago in Washington on a joint work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East, Channel 10 reported on Thursday.
The document marks the beginning of a new cooperative effort against Iran, a senior US official told The Jerusalem Post.
The document, characterized by a US National Security Council representative as an informal “framework,” follows on President Donald Trump’s speech in October outlining a new American policy approach to the Islamic Republic, where he announced that he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal.
“It’s more precise to say that it is a framework document, and not a done and dusted plan,” the US official told the Post
. “It is a framework for future cooperation. It is not the end result of a process, it’s more of a beginning.”
The White House declined to comment on whether the agreement commits the US to coordinate its forthcoming strategy on the Iran nuclear deal with the Israelis. But “our goal is to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon,” the official said.
“Obviously, there was a major strategy that was announced a few months ago, and there have been meetings subsequent to that shaped by that new strategy,” the official continued. “And obviously Israel is one of our closest allies.”
A spokesman in the Prime Minister’s Office, when asked about the report, would only say that “there was a meeting in Washington.”
The Israeli team was led by National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, and the US team was led by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Senior defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials from both sides took part in the meeting.
According to the report, an agreement was reached on regional goals in the region and several working groups were set up, including one to deal with joint covert and diplomatic steps to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons and to monitor and verify that it is not violating the nuclear deal signed in 2015.
This group will also focus on placing additional pressure on the Islamic Republic through both covert and diplomatic steps.
Another group was set up to counter Iran’s activity in the region, specifically its support for Hezbollah. This group will also formulate a joint policy regarding Syria after the end of the civil war.
A third group is to work to counter Iranian ballistic missile development and the manufacturing of precision missiles in Syria and Lebanon, and a fourth is to address joint preparation for various scenarios of escalation in the region, be they with Iran or with Hezbollah.