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Ex-Mossad chief reports Iran nuclear attacks to Israel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The outgoing head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service offered the closest recognition, but his country was behind the recent attacks on Iran’s nuclear program and a military scientist.

Yossi Cohen’s comments, addressing Channel 12’s Israeli investigative program “Uvda” in a segment aired Thursday night, offered an extraordinary debriefing by the head of the typically secretive agency in what appears to be the last days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reign.

He has also clearly warned other scientists of Iran’s nuclear program that they too could become assassination targets even as diplomats in Vienna attempt to negotiate terms to try to salvage his atomic deal with world powers.

“If the scientist is ready to change careers and won’t hurt us anymore, then yes, sometimes we offer him a way out,” Cohen said.

Of the major attacks targeting Iran, none have struck deeper than two explosions in the past year at its Natanz nuclear facility. There, 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. Then, in April of this year, another explosion destroyed one of its underground enrichment rooms.

Asked about Natanz, the interviewer asked Cohen where he would take them if they could get there, he replied “to the cellar” where “the centrifuges were spinning”.

“It doesn’t look like what it looked like anymore,” he added.

Cohen did not directly claim responsibility for the attacks, but his uniqueness offered the closest recognition to date of an Israeli hand in the attacks. The interviewer, journalist Ilan Dayan, also apparently offered a detailed description of how Israel introduced the explosives into Natanz’s underground rooms, which was not disputed by Cohen.

“The man who was responsible for these explosions, it becomes clear, made sure to provide the Iranians with the marble foundation on which the centrifuges are placed,” Dayan said. “As they set this table up in Natanz’s facility, they have no idea that it already contains a huge amount of explosives.”

He also referred to the November murder of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who launched Tehran’s military nuclear program decades ago. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran abandoned this organized nuclear weapon search effort in 2003. Iran has long maintained its peaceful agenda.

While Cohen on camera does not claim responsibility for the murder, Dayan in the segment described Cohen as having “personally signed the whole campaign.”

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from participating in the program, which had seen some abandon their work after being warned, even indirectly, by Israel. Asked by the interviewer if the scientists understood the implications of if they didn’t, Cohen replied, “They see their friends.”

Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel’s attacks, with Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning as late as Thursday that the incidents “will not only receive a decisive response, but will certainly not leave Iran has no choice but to review its transparency measures and its cooperation policy. “

The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the comments from Cohen, who has been replaced by former agent David Barnea.


Associated Press editor Karin Laub in Amman, Jordan contributed to this report.

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