Israel's prime minister asks "what is there to hide" in Iran deal after US withholds details

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FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2015 file-pool photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office. A group of almost two dozen liberal Democrats have signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to postpone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to a joint meeting of Congress next month. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File-Pool)


JERUSALEM — Israel's prime minister said Thursday that he knows the details of the deal being forged with Iran over its nuclear program and asked "what is there to hide" after the U.S. said it was withholding some information on the talks.

Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks come a day after the Obama administration said it is keeping some specifics from Israel because it fears the close U.S. ally has leaked sensitive information to try to scuttle the talks — and will continue to do so.

"We know that Tehran knows the details of the talks. Now I tell you that Israel also knows the details of the proposed agreement," Netanyahu said.

"I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it. If anyone thinks otherwise what is there to hide here?" he said.

Netanyahu has angered the White House with his open opposition to a deal he believes threatens Israel's existence, and by accepting a Republican invitation to address Congress about Iran in early March without consulting the White House, a breach of diplomatic protocol.

The planned speech has caused an uproar in Israel as well, coming just two weeks before national elections. Netanyahu has rejected the criticism, saying it is his duty to lobby against the nuclear deal.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki questioned Netanyahu's claim to knowing the details of the deal. "Then the fact is that he knows more than the negotiators, in that there is no deal yet," she said.

"Obviously, if there's a deal we'll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that's the case and we come to a deal, it's hard to see how anyone wouldn't see that's to the benefit of the international community," she said.

Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its very existence, citing Tehran's repeated calls for Israel's destruction, its long-range missile program and its support for anti-Israel militant groups like Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

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