WASHINGTON - US officials suspect Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized leaking details of US nuclear negotiations with Iran to Israeli journalists, The Washington Post reported Monday.

In recent days, the Obama administration has moved to limit the exchange of information with Israel about the ongoing negotiations with Iran following suspicion that Netanyahu’s office had given the Israeli media “sensitive details” of the US position in the talks, Post’s columnist David Ignatius wrote.

“Concerns that Israeli officials had leaked key details about those negotiations, including that the US offered to let Iran enrich uranium with ‘6,500 or more centrifuges as part of a final deal,’ has prompted the US to limit the amount of sensitive information it exchanges with Israel about the Iran nuclear negotiations,” Ignatius added. US officials believe recent Israeli reports about the talks were “misleading” on the number and type of centrifuges Iran would operate under a long-term nuclear accord.

An initial report by Israel’s Channel indicated on Sunday that the lead US negotiator with Iran, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, had stated she would no longer be updating the Israelis about the Iran talks. White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice has also reportedly announced she is cutting ties with Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu’s national security adviser.

But a White House spokesman, Alistair Baskey, denied that the administration had cut all communications with Israel about the talks. However, Philip Gordon, White House coordinator for the Middle East, would not share the latest information about Iran policy when he meets Cohen, and other senior officials on Monday, sources told the Post. The already tense relations between the US and Israel began to unravel on Jan. 21 when House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress about the alleged threat of Iran’s nuclear program.

The invitation was extended hours after President Barack Obama threatened to veto any sanctions legislation against Iran. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is scheduled for March 3. The White House has denounced the speech as a “breach of protocol” that could derail the nuclear talks with Iran. Israeli officials believe the Obama administration is reducing communications with Israel because of Netanyahu’s upcoming speech.

An official in Netanyahu’s office told the Post that it is “perplexing” that a decision would be made to try to keep details of the latest developments in the talks a secret from Tel Aviv while Israel’s “very survival could be threatened by a bad deal.” Speaker Boehner accused the White House Sunday of holding “animosity” towards Netanyahu, saying he did not need Obama’s consent for inviting the Israeli premier to address Congress. “The fact is we have every right to do what we did,” the Ohio Republican said in an interview with Fox News. “I’m glad that he’s coming and I’m looking forward to what he has to say.”

“I wanted the [Israeli] prime minister to come here,” he added. “When it comes to threat of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, these are important messages that the Congress needs to hear and the American people need to hear, and I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu is the perfect person to deliver the message of how serious this threat is.” Iran and the P5+1 states - the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany - are in talks to narrow their differences and pave the way for a final, long-term accord aimed at putting an end to the 12-year-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

Iran maintains that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing its nuclear programme has been diverted to military objectives.