Netanyahu heads to U.S. under cloud

May 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM
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JERUSALEM, May 19 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travels to Washington this week amid diplomatic concerns in the United States and Russia.

Netanyahu, who left for Washington Thursday, travels after it was revealed that a former adviser was responsible for leaking information about a nuclear project with the United States and that a military attache stationed in Moscow was arrested and deported for spying, Haaretz reported.

The Israeli army said it investigated the allegations against Col. Vadim Liederman, an Israeli army attache in Moscow, and determined the allegations were unfounded. Liederman was arrested May 12.

The leak about the nuclear project involves Netanyahu's former national security adviser, Uzi Arad, who has left his position. While it was announced in February Arad had resigned, Haaretz reported he was fired after an investigation determined he was behind the leak that caused a major diplomatic crisis with the Obama administration.

The leak, first reported last July, indicated the United States and Israel reached substantive understandings in secret talks on the civilian nuclear issue.

The secret talks took place in June 2010, shortly after President Obama backed a resolution on a nuclear-free Middle East at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. A month later, the secret talks were reported by several Israeli media outlets. The reports indicated the United States had given Israel guarantees that its "strategic capabilities" in the nuclear field would be preserved and strengthened.

Investigators of the leak determined there was no basis for criminal charges, in part because of Arad's resignation and the likely difficulty in proving Arad had leaked the information deliberately rather than unthinkingly as he claimed.

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