June 18, 2021

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Ex-Mossad chief reports Iran nuclear attacks to Israel

Ex-Mossad chief reports Iran nuclear attacks to Israel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The outgoing Israeli intelligence chief Mossad offered the closest recognition, but his country was behind the recent attacks on Iran’s nuclear program and a military scientist.

Yossi Cohen’s comments, addressing Channel 12’s Israeli investigative program “Uvda” in a segment aired Thursday night, offered an extraordinary debriefing by the head of the typically secretive agency in what appears to be the last days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reign.

He has also clearly warned other scientists of Iran’s nuclear program that they could also become assassination targets even as diplomats in Vienna attempt to negotiate terms in an attempt to salvage his atomic deal with world powers.

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“If the scientist is ready to change careers and won’t hurt us anymore, then yes, sometimes we offer him a way out,” Cohen said.

Of the major attacks targeting Iran, none have struck deeper than two explosions in the past year at its Natanz nuclear facility. There, centrifuges enrich uranium from an underground hall designed to protect them from airstrikes.

Ex-Mossad chief reports Iran nuclear attacks to Israel

In this July 3, 2016 file photo, Yossi Cohen, then director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, attends the funeral in Jerusalem for a rabbi killed by Palestinian gunmen. Cohen, the outgoing head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, offered the closest recognition, but his country was behind a spate of recent attacks targeting Iran’s nuclear program and a military scientist in a TV interview aired Thursday, June 10. 2021. (AP Photo / Oded Balilté, file)
(AP Photo / Oded Balilty, on file)

In July 2020, a mysterious explosion tore apart Natanz’s advanced centrifuge assembly, which Iran later blamed on Israel. Then, in April of this year, another explosion destroyed one of its underground enrichment rooms.

While discussing Natanz, the interviewer asked Cohen where he would take them if they could get there, he said “to the cellar” where “the centrifuges were spinning”.

“It doesn’t seem to be before,” he added.

Cohen did not directly claim responsibility for the attacks, but his uniqueness offered the closest recognition to date of an Israeli hand in the attacks. The interviewer, journalist Ilana Dayan, also apparently offered a detailed description in a voiceover of how Israel introduced the explosives into the underground corridors of Natanz.


“The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to provide the Iranians with the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed,” Dayan said. “As they install this foundation at Natanz’s facility, they have no idea that it already contains a huge amount of explosives.”

They also discussed the November murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who launched Tehran’s military nuclear program decades ago. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran abandoned this organized nuclear weapon search effort in 2003. Iran has long maintained its peaceful agenda.

While Cohen on camera does not claim responsibility for the murder, Dayan in the segment described Cohen as having “personally signed the whole campaign.” Dayan also described how a remote controlled machine gun attached to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and then self-destructed.

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from participating in the program, which had seen some abandon their work after being warned, even indirectly, by Israel. Asked by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications if they didn’t stop, Cohen said, “They see their friends.”

They also spoke about the Israeli operation to seize archival documents from Iran’s military nuclear program. Dayan said 20 officers, none Israeli, seized material from 32 safes, then scanned and handed over much of the material. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically withdrawn from Iran.


Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to make the results of the operation public, going against a long-standing practice of secrecy involving Mossad activities.

“It was important to us that the world saw this, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to say to them, ‘Dear friends: one, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you… Three, the era of… the lies are over, ”Cohen said.

Media in Israel operates under a decades-old policy that requires journalists to clarify stories involving security issues through military censors. The fact that Cohen’s remarks seemingly obliterated censors suggests that Israel wanted to issue another warning to Iran in the context of the Vienna nuclear negotiations.

Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel’s attacks, with Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning as late as Thursday that the incidents “will not only receive a decisive response, but will certainly not leave Iran has no choice but to reconsider its transparency measures and its cooperation policy. “


The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the comments from Cohen, who has been replaced by former agent David Barnea. Cohen in the interview admitted that he might one day seek out the prime minister’s office on his own.

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