Biden's security adviser: US and Israel have a policy of 'no surprises'

White House national security adviser: US and Israel disagree about Iran deal but have an understanding to ensure there are "no surprises" between them.

Elad Benari ,

Gilad Erdan, Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat
Gilad Erdan, Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat
Israeli Embassy in Washington

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC News that the United States and Israel disagree about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran but have an understanding to ensure there are "no surprises" between the two governments.

Sullivan indirectly addressed allegations that Israel was behind a recent cyberattack on the underground Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz.

Asked if he would prefer that Iran's nuclear sites not come under attack during negotiations, Sullivan said, "We certainly believe that there are certain kinds of activities that are unhelpful to diplomacy." At the same time, he did not elaborate on the "activities" he was referring to or Israel's possible role.

"At the same time, we believe, profoundly and passionately, in making sure that we and Israel have a policy of no surprises, that we are communicating with one another on a going forward basis, so that we have a better understanding ... on what the other side intends to do with respect to a whole range of security issues in the region," he added.

Sullivan acknowledged that the Biden administration and the Israeli government disagreed about the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

"Israel has a point of view on the Iran nuclear deal. The current government in Israel has communicated that view to us, they have deep concerns about it, and we've had intensive dialogue," he told NBC News.

Sullivan’s interview was recorded before he met with Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat on Tuesday and updated him on the nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna.

A statement published by the White House following the meeting said, “The US and Israeli officials discussed their serious concerns about advancements in Iran’s nuclear program in recent years. The United States updated Israel on the talks in Vienna and emphasized strong US interest in consulting closely with Israel on the nuclear issue going forward.”

“The United States and Israel agreed on the significant threat posed by Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region, and US officials underscored President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” added the statement.

Sullivan told NBC News in the interview there had been "some progress" in the talks in Vienna between Iran and world powers aimed at reviving the 2015 accord.

"There is still a fair distance to travel, and that is chiefly on the question of the type of sanctions relief that will be offered from our side, and the type of nuclear restraints that will be imposed on their side," he said.

The US and European Union both said last week that more work was needed to revive the 2015 deal, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the "negotiations have achieved 60-70 percent progress."

A senior State Department official told reporters last week that the US provided Iran with an outline of the sanctions it is prepared to remove as part of a mutual return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.