Ex-Mossad Head to Iran: ‘We Won’t Let You Get Nuclear Weapons. What Don’t You Understand?’

 

Retired Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

Every few months for the past several years, there’s an “incident” in Iran. A top nuclear scientist disappears. A centrifuge facility catches fire. A ship doesn’t make it to its destination. And the Israelis offer no comment.

That is, until now. Yossi Cohen, who stepped down as leader of the Mossad intelligence agency last week, provided a stunning inside look at Israel’s efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

In a TV interview, Cohen showed detailed knowledge of Iran’s nuclear sites and offered the interviewer a tour of Natanz, the site of a massive blast that destroyed centrifuges in 2018. He described the underground cellar as the place where “the centrifuges used to spin.”

“It no longer looks like it did?” journalist Ilan Dayan asked.

“Indeed,” said Cohen.

“Unless they fixed it,” she said.

“It doesn’t look like it used to look,” insisted Cohen.

The ex-Mossad head added, “We say very clearly [to Iran]: We won’t let you get nuclear weapons. What don’t you understand?”

Apparently, “a huge quantity of explosives” were built into the centrifuge platform at the Natanz facility, unbeknownst to the Iranians.

While not openly taking credit for the November 2020 assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, he hinted at his involvement. Cohen said Fakhrizadeh “most troubled us from the point of view of the science, the knowledge, the scientists of the Iranian military nuclear program” and that “he was a target for [intelligence] gathering for many years.”

“If the man constitutes a capability that endangers the citizens of Israel, he must stop existing,” Cohen added.

From The Times of Israel:

In some cases, however, Cohen said, Israel conveys the message to such a potential target that “if he is prepared to change profession and not harm us any longer, then yes” — implying such a target would be spared.

Did any such people get the hint and become, say, a piano player, Dayan asked?

Yes, said Cohen, and added that this pleased him. Others, however, he said, did not get the message that this was an offer they shouldn’t refuse.

For all the Mossad’s actions, “the Iranians are closer than ever” to the bomb,” Dayan suggested. “Not so,” said Cohen. “That’s not true.”

Cohen did take credit for Mossad stealing a treasure trove of nuclear documents from a Tehran warehouse in early 2018.

“We understood they were secretly storing their nuclear secrets — things we didn’t know… I decided we needed to see what the Iranians are planning for us,” Cohen said, “and I told my people to prepare to bring this home” because it would potentially show “the wider picture” of the Iranian program.

Twenty Mossad agents were involved on the ground — none of them Israeli nationals, said Dayan.

Mossad built a replica of the site, learned all about the containers holding the material, and knew how the containers were arranged, Cohen indicated. “We had a certain problem” on the night itself, said Cohen, regarding “something we recognized” that had apparently changed, but the decision was taken to proceed as planned.

Cohen said they knew they had seven hours maximum at the site — “after that trucks and guards and workers” would arrive and “you can’t be jumping off fences and bursting through walls.”

The team neutralized alarms, removed the warehouse doors, and reportedly opened 32 safes holding the material. Opening safes like those takes “more than minutes for each,” Cohen said.

Israel’s military seems to have cleared the interview and Cohen remained cagey about still-secret operations.

I recommend Iran get the message that this is an offer they shouldn’t refuse.

Published in Foreign Policy, Islamist Terrorism, Military
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  1. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    The Israelis know the the very fragile state of their existence. They continue to show utmost tenacity in defending themselves at risk of total alienation on the world stage. That is the courage we should share and laud in the face of evil. No apologies. Thank you for highlighting this.

    • #1
  2. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    That is good news for all the world, not just Israel.

    • #2
  3. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    I wish we had their backs more than we do. 

    • #3
  4. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    But the mullahs don’t get the message.  Wonder if it was their lack of a real education.  

    • #4
  5. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    navyjag (View Comment):

    But the mullahs don’t get the message. Wonder if it was their lack of a real education.

    As long as the mullahs themselves keep surviving, it’s all risk-free to themselves.

    • #5
  6. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    kedavis (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    But the mullahs don’t get the message. Wonder if it was their lack of a real education.

    As long as the mullahs themselves keep surviving, it’s all risk-free to themselves.

    Agree KE. But won’t they start worrying the IDF will take them out sooner or later? Sooner, I hope.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    navyjag (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    But the mullahs don’t get the message. Wonder if it was their lack of a real education.

    As long as the mullahs themselves keep surviving, it’s all risk-free to themselves.

    Agree KE. But won’t they start worrying the IDF will take them out sooner or later? Sooner, I hope.

    I’d argue even before the scientists.  They aren’t the ones giving the orders.

    • #7
  8. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    “Moderate Joe” Biden seems to go out of his way to make this happen.  Lot of writers at places like the Bulwark (when it was the weekly standard) were against Obama’s Iran policy. How many of these same writers will be praising it. 

     

     

    • #8
  9. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    I have long had great respect and admiration for the Jewish community and faith. This story confirms and reinforces it. For thousands of years they have faced the fact that people hate them just for being Jews. They don’t respond by returning the hate. They show resolve, intelligence and best of all, great humor. I am a Christian, but I think it must often be a wonderful thing to be a Jew. 

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Over the years, the Jews have been saying, “Never Again.” We mean it. Thanks, Jon.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Apparently, “a huge quantity of explosives” were built into the centrifuge platform at the Natanz facility, unbeknownst to the Iranians.

    Don’t you just hate when all that “plumbing compound” was composed of C-4?

    • #11
  12. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I wonder if the changes in Israeli leadership will weaken their efforts against their (and our) enemies? The thug countries seem to be ramping up, not tamping down. They see the US administration as soft, so here is what’s happening as Biden is meeting with the Russian president:

    https://www.jpost.com/international/russia-to-supply-iran-with-advanced-satellite-washington-post-670736

    This doesn’t seem to be a gesture of good faith to our country………or Israel. (!!!) 

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    I wonder if the changes in Israeli leadership will weaken their efforts against their (and our) enemies? The thug countries seem to be ramping up, not tamping down. They see the US administration as soft, so here is what’s happening as Biden is meeting with the Russian president:

    https://www.jpost.com/international/russia-to-supply-iran-with-advanced-satellite-washington-post-670736

    This doesn’t seem to be a gesture of good faith to our country………or Israel. (!!!)

    Your concerns are legitimate, FSC. At this point, the world is losing its respect for us. We are acting blindly, stupidly and ignorantly, both domestically and internationally. And bad actors will continue to take advantage of us and help those who would hurt us. Yes, I believe a change in Israeli leadership will exacerbate the problem. They are essentially acting on behalf of the Left, no matter what they call themselves. The only positive note, a side factor but an important one, is that the world is beginning to understand what a farce the Palestinians and their positions are. They are considering that Israel may have some legitimate positions. We can only hope. 

    • #13