DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The outgoing head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service provided the closest recognition, but his country was behind recent attacks on Iran’s nuclear program and a military scientist.
The remarks of Yossi Cohen, who spoke to the Israeli Channel 12 investigation program “Uvda” in a segment that was broadcast on Thursday night, offer an extraordinary explanation by the head of the typical secret agency in what appears to be the last days of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It also gave a clear warning to other scientists in Iran’s nuclear program that they too could become targets for assassination, even as diplomats in Vienna try to negotiate terms to try to save the nuclear deal with world powers.
“If the scientist is willing to change careers and will not hurt us anymore, then we sometimes offer them a way out,” Cohen said.
Among the most important attacks on Iran target, no one has hit deeper than two explosions at its Natanz nuclear facility in the past year. Centrifuges enrich uranium from an underground hall designed to protect them from airstrikes.
In July 2020, a mysterious explosion ripped apart Natanz’s advanced centrifuge assembly, which later blamed Iran on Israel. In April this year, another explosion tore apart one of its underground enrichment halls.
The interviewer, who discussed Natanz, asked Cohen where he would take them if they could travel there. He said: “to the cellar” where “the centrifuges turn earlier.”
“It does not look like before,” he added.
Cohen did not directly claim the attacks, but his specificity gave the closest recognition of an Israeli hand in the attacks. The interviewer, journalist Ilana Dayan, apparently also offered a detailed description in a voice of how Israel snuck the explosives into Natanz’s underground halls.
“The man responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure he provided the Iranians with the marble foundation on which the centrifuges were placed,” Dayan said. “Since they are installing this foundation inside the Natanz plant, they have no idea that it already contains an enormous amount of explosives.”
They also discussed the November assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who began Tehran’s military nuclear program decades ago. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe that Iran abandoned its organized search for a nuclear weapon in 2003. Iran has long maintained that its program is peaceful.
While Cohen does not claim the murder on camera, Dayan in the segment describes Cohen as’ personally ‘signed off for the entire campaign’. Dayan also described how a remote-controlled machine gun attached to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and later destroyed itself.
Cohen describes an attempt by Israel to persuade Iranian scientists to participate in the program. Some people gave up their jobs after being warned, even indirectly, by Israel. Asked by the interviewer if scientists understand the implications if they do not stop, Cohen said, “They see their friends.”
They also spoke about the operation of Israel seizing archival documents from Iran’s military nuclear program. According to Dayan, 20 agents, no Israelis, seized material from 32 safes and then scanned and shipped a large portion of the documents. Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically taken from Iran.
Cohen defends Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to disclose the results of the operation, in violation of years of secrecy involving Mossad activities.
“It was important to us that the world should see it, but this thing should also appeal to the Iranian leadership to tell them, ‘Dear friends: one, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you. era of … lies is over, ” Cohen said.
Media in Israel works according to a decades-old policy that requires journalists to delete stories about security issues by military censors. That Cohen’s censorship apparently cleared up indicates that Israel wanted to issue a new warning to Iran amid the nuclear negotiations in Vienna.
Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel’s attacks, with Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning on Thursday that the incidents “will not only be a decisive response, but will certainly leave no option for Iran but its transparency measures” and reconsider cooperation policies. ”
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Cohen, who was replaced by former operative David Barnea. Cohen admitted in the interview that he might one day go to the prime minister’s office himself.