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Outgoing intelligence chief signals Israel targeted Iran’s nuclear assets | CBC News


Jun 11, 2021

The outgoing chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service has provided the closest acknowledgement but his nation was behind latest assaults focusing on Iran’s nuclear program and a army scientist.

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

It additionally gave a transparent warning to different scientists in Iran’s nuclear program that they too may turn out to be 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 willing to change career and will not hurt us anymore, than yes, sometimes we offer them” a approach out, Cohen mentioned.

No direct declare of assaults

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

This photograph launched July 2, 2020, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, reveals a constructing after it was broken, on the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, south of Tehran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/The Associated Press)

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 among its underground enrichment halls.

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

“It doesn’t look like it used to look,” he added.

Cohen didn’t straight declare the assaults, however his specificity provided the closest acknowledgement but of an Israeli hand within the assaults.

The interviewer, journalist Ilana Dayan, additionally seemingly provided an in depth description in a voiceover of how Israel snuck the explosives into Natanz’s underground halls.

“The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to supply to the Iranians the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed,” Dayan mentioned.

“As they install this foundation within the Natanz facility, they have no idea that it already includes an enormous amount of explosives.”

Killing of Iranian scientist

They additionally 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 International Atomic Energy Agency imagine Iran deserted that organized effort at searching for a nuclear weapon in 2003. Iran lengthy has maintained its program is peaceable.

While Cohen on digicam would not declare the killing, Dayan within the section described Cohen as having “personally signed off on the entire campaign.”

A billboard carries a portrait of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on the website of his killing in Absard east of Tehran on Dec. 16, 2020. (Vahid Salemi/The Associated Press)

Dayan additionally described how a remotely operated machine gun fastened to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and later self-destructed.

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from collaborating in this system, which had seen some abandon their work after being warned, even not directly, by Israel.

Asked by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications in the event that they did not cease, Cohen mentioned: “They see their friends.”

They additionally 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 obtained a lot of the materials earlier than it was bodily taken out of Iran.

Revealing a message

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

“It was important to us that the world will see this, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to tell them, ‘Dear friends: One, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you.. Three, the era of … lies is over,'” Cohen mentioned.

Media in Israel function below a decades-old coverage that requires journalists to clear tales involving safety issues by army censors. That Cohen’s remarks apparently cleared the censors suggests Israel needed to situation 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 just lately as Thursday that the incidents “not only will be responded to decisively, but also certainly leave no option for Iran but to reconsider its transparency measures and co-operation policy.”

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 someday search the prime minister’s workplace himself.


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