Herald on Sunday

Ex-Mossad head opens up on Iran hits


The outgoing chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligen­ce service has offered the closest acknowledg­ment yet his country was behind recent attacks targeting Iran’s nuclear programme and a military scientist.

The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel’s Channel 12 investigat­ive programme Uvda in a segment aired on Friday, offered an extraordin­ary debriefing in what appear to be the final days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule.

It also gave a clear warning to other scientists in Iran’s nuclear programme that they too could become targets for assassinat­ion even as diplomats in Vienna try to negotiate terms to try 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 way out]”, Cohen said.

Over the last year two explosions have struck Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, where centrifuge­s enrich uranium from an undergroun­d hall designed to protect them from airstrikes.

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

The interviewe­r asked Cohen where he’d take them if they could visit Natanz. Cohen said “to the cellar” where “the centrifuge­s used to spin”.

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

Cohen did not directly claim the attacks, but his specificit­y offered the closest acknowledg­ement yet of an Israeli hand in the attacks.

The interviewe­r, journalist Ilana Dayan, also seemingly offered a descriptio­n in a voiceover of how Israel snuck the explosives into Natanz.

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

Dayan described Cohen as having “personally signed off on the entire campaign”. He also described how a remotely-operated machine gun fixed to a pickup truck killed key Iranian military nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizade­h and later selfdestru­cted.

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