Israeli Intelligence Chief Cohen Says 'We Penetrated Heart' Of Iran
“We penetrated into the heart of hearts of the enemy Iran,” Israel’s outgoing intelligence chief Yossi Cohen said on Monday at a gathering to mark the end of his five-year tenure at the helm of Mossad.
Cohen was referring to an apparent expansion of Israel’s capabilities to penetrate Iran and conduct secret operations, that have gathered pace since 2018. In early July 2020, a mysterious explosion hit a sensitive section of Natanz uranium enrichment facility, destroying the assembly hall for new machines.
Iran’s security services had hardly recovered from the incident they could not or would not clearly explain, when in November a top official in the nuclear program was assassinated in broad daylight, accompanied by bodyguards on the outskirts of Tehran.
In the meantime, smaller explosions and suspicious, unexplained fires were breaking out in many industrial and military installations. Finally, a much larger explosion and fire took place again in Natanz that Iranian officials admitted was an act of sabotage with devastating results and according to some Iranian accounts, billions of dollars in damages.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, has concluded that Iran’s production of enriched uranium plunged after the April attack, which potentially destroyed hundreds of enrichment machines.
Standing next to Benjamin Netanyahu, Cohen said about Iran, “We acted to constantly gather intelligence and uncover its secrets and undermined its self-confidence and haughtiness.”
Cohen also highlighted an earlier operation to steal Iran’s nuclear archive, that Netanyahu disclosed in September 2018 at the UN General Assembly. The operation, Cohen said “exposed to the whole world Iran’s military nuclear program, its plans, its preservation of capabilities in the military nuclear field and Iran’s fraud and lies.”
Netanyahu also called that operation “one of the Mossad’s most glorious achievements in all its day,” and added, “I don’t want to and cannot detail all that we did to fight the ayatollah regime that threatens to annihilate us. This evening as well most of these things in the realm of subterfuge should remain in the shadows,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu was a close ally of former president Donald Trump, when he pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran, in what was dubbed as “maximum pressure”. President Joe Biden has signalled that he wants to return to the agreement, meaning reducing US sanctions and practically an end to Trump’s policy of forcing Iran to drastically change its policies.
US Senator Ted Cruz who was in Israel on Monday said Biden is being soft on Iran and argued that the new US policy is inviting more violence, referring to the latest conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, who fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles at Israel.
Cruz told The Associated Press that Biden's policies showed “weakness” and had emboldened Hamas' militants who rule the Gaza Strip.
“The longer Joe Biden shows weakness to Hamas or Hezbollah or Iran, the more you’re going to see terrorist attacks escalating,” Cruz said after a day of touring Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system and viewing damage in Ashkelon.