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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