Ex-Mossad chief alerts Israel behind Iran nuclear assaults

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The outgoing chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service has supplied the closest acknowledgment but his nation was behind current assaults concentrating on Iran’s nuclear program and a army scientist.

The feedback by Yossi Cohen, talking to Israel’s Channel 12 investigative program “Uvda” in a section aired Thursday night time, supplied a rare debriefing by the pinnacle of the usually secretive company in what seems to be the ultimate days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule.

It additionally gave a transparent warning to different scientists in Iran’s nuclear program that they too might change into targets for assassination whilst diplomats in Vienna attempt to negotiate phrases to attempt to salvage its atomic accord with world powers.


“If the scientist is prepared to alter profession and won’t harm us anymore, than sure, typically we provide them” a method out, Cohen mentioned.

Among the many main assaults to focus on Iran, none have struck deeper than two explosions during the last 12 months at its Natanz nuclear facility. There, centrifuges enrich uranium from an underground corridor designed to guard them from airstrikes.

On this July 3, 2016, file picture, Yossi Cohen, then the director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence company, attends the funeral in Jerusalem of a rabbi killed by Palestinian gunmen. Cohen, the outgoing chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, supplied the closest acknowledgment but his nation was behind a collection of current assaults concentrating on Iran’s nuclear program and a army scientist in a tv interview aired Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Picture/Oded Balilty, File)
(AP Picture/Oded Balilty, File)

In July 2020, a mysterious explosion tore aside Natanz’s superior centrifuge meeting, which Iran later blamed on Israel. Then in April of this 12 months, one other blast tore aside one in all its underground enrichment halls.

Discussing Natanz, the interviewer requested Cohen the place he’d take them if they might journey there, he mentioned “to the cellar” the place “the centrifuges used to spin.”

“It does not appear like it used to look,” he added.

Cohen didn’t immediately declare the assaults, however his specificity supplied the closest acknowledgment but of an Israeli hand within the assaults. The interviewer, journalist Ilana Dayan, additionally seemingly supplied an in depth description in a voiceover of how Israel snuck the explosives into Natanz’s underground halls.


“The person who was answerable for these explosions, it turns into clear, made positive to produce to the Iranians the marble basis on which the centrifuges are positioned,” Dayan mentioned. “As they set up this basis throughout the Natanz facility, they do not know that it already contains an unlimited quantity of explosives.”

In addition they mentioned the November killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who started Tehran’s army nuclear program a long time in the past. U.S. intelligence companies and the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company consider Iran deserted that organized effort at in search of a nuclear weapon in 2003. Iran lengthy has maintained its program is peaceable.

Whereas Cohen on digicam does not declare the killing, Dayan within the section described Cohen as having “personally signed off on your complete marketing campaign.” Dayan additionally described how a remotely operated machine gun mounted to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and later self-destructed.

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from participating in this system, which had seen some abandon their work after being warned, even not directly, by Israel. Requested by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications in the event that they did not cease, Cohen mentioned: “They see their associates.”

In addition they talked about Israel’s operation seizing archival paperwork from Iran’s army nuclear program. Dayan mentioned 20 brokers, none Israelis, seized materials from 32 safes, then scanned and transmitted a big portion of the paperwork. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad acquired a lot of the materials earlier than it was bodily taken out of Iran.


Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s determination to go public with the outcomes of the operation, going towards a long-standing apply of secrecy involving Mossad actions.

“It was vital to us that the world will see this, however this factor also needs to resonate with the Iranian management, to inform them, ‘Pricey associates: One, you’ve gotten been infiltrated. Two, we see you.. Three, the period of … lies is over,'” Cohen mentioned.

Media in Israel function beneath a decades-old coverage that requires journalists to clear tales involving safety issues via army censors. That Cohen’s remarks apparently cleared the censors suggests Israel wished to problem a brand new warning to Iran amid the Vienna nuclear negotiations.

Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel’s assaults, with Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning as not too long ago as Thursday that the incidents “not solely might be responded to decisively, but in addition definitely depart no possibility for Iran however to rethink its transparency measures and cooperation coverage.”


Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark over the feedback by Cohen, who was changed by former operative David Barnea. Cohen within the interview acknowledged he may at some point search the prime minister’s workplace himself.

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