'If a man endangers Israel, he must stop existing': Mossad chief appears to admit Israeli assassinations and blowing up Iranian nuclear plant in extraordinary TV interview

 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 program and a military scientist.

The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 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 final days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule.

It also gave a clear warning to other scientists in Iran's nuclear program 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.

But he said of Israel's assassination campaigns: 'If the man constitutes a capability that endangers the citizens of Israel, he must stop existing.' 

Among the major attacks to target Iran, none have struck deeper than two explosions over the last 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 blast tore apart one of its underground enrichment halls.

The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 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 final days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule

The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 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 final days of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule

The program describes how a remotely operated machine gun fixed to a pickup truck killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who began Tehran's military nuclear program decades ago

The program describes how a remotely operated machine gun fixed to a pickup truck killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who began Tehran's military nuclear program decades ago


Discussing Natanz, the interviewer asked Cohen where he'd take them if they could travel there, he 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. 

He said more generally: 'We say very clearly [to Iran]: We won't let you get nuclear weapons. What don't you understand?'  

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

'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.' 

They also discussed the November killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's top nuclear scientist who began Tehran's military nuclear program decades ago, and Cohen admitted he was watched by Mossad for years. 

Fakhrizadeh was killed by machine gun fire while travelling on a highway outside Tehran. 

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said a satellite-controlled gun with 'artificial intelligence' was used in the attack, which Tehran blamed on Israel. 

Cohen said: '[Fakhrizadeh] most troubled us from the point of view of the science, the knowledge, the scientists of the Iranian military nuclear program', making him 'a target for [intelligence] gathering for many years.'  

U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran abandoned that organized effort at seeking a nuclear weapon in 2003. Iran long has maintained its program is peaceful.

In July 2020, a mysterious explosion tore apart Natanz's advanced centrifuge assembly, pictured. Then in April of this year, another blast tore apart one of its underground enrichment halls

In July 2020, a mysterious explosion tore apart Natanz's advanced centrifuge assembly, pictured. Then in April of this year, another blast tore apart one of its underground enrichment halls

An exterior view of the nuclear enrichment plant of Natanz, in central Iran, in November 2005

 An exterior view of the nuclear enrichment plant of Natanz, in central Iran, in November 2005 

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (pictured) was killed on November 27 last year in a hit carried out by Israel's secret service, Mossad

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (pictured) was killed on November 27 last year in a hit carried out by Israel's secret service, Mossad

While Cohen on camera doesn't claim the killing, Dayan in the segment described Cohen as having 'personally signed off on the entire campaign.' Dayan also described how a remotely operated machine gun fixed to a pickup truck killed Fakhrizadeh and later self-destructed.

Cohen described an Israeli effort to dissuade Iranian scientists from taking part 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 if they didn't stop, Cohen said: 'They see their friends.'

They also talked about Israel's 2018 operation seizing archival documents from Iran's military nuclear program. Dayan said 20 agents, none Israelis, seized material from 32 safes inside a Tehran warehouse on January 31, 2018, then scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents. 

'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, adding 'I told my people to prepare to bring this home' because it would reveal 'the wider picture' of the Iranian program.   

Dayan said 20 agents, none Israelis, seized material from 32 safes inside a Tehran warehouse (pictured) on January 31, 2018, then scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents

Dayan said 20 agents, none Israelis, seized material from 32 safes inside a Tehran warehouse (pictured) on January 31, 2018, then scanned and transmitted a large portion of the documents

Safes inside a warehouse in Shorabad, south Tehran, where Mossad agents discovered and extracted tens of thousands of secret files

Safes inside a warehouse in Shorabad, south Tehran, where Mossad agents discovered and extracted tens of thousands of secret files

Before the operation, Mossad had built a replica of the site and learned about the containers holding the secret material. The agents knew they had seven hours at the site because 'after that trucks and guards and workers' would arrive and 'you can't be jumping fences and bursting through walls'.  

Cohen confirmed that the Mossad received most of the material before it was physically taken out of Iran. 

It was at their Tel Aviv command center, where Cohen was running the Mossad operation, that they screened the documents and material from the safes. 

'We realised that we have what we wanted, that we are "on" Iran's military nuclear program. There was incredible excitement for us all,' said Cohen. 

By the morning, the Iranians knew that the warehouse had been emptied and they closed the borders. 

Knowing this would be the case, most of the material was transferred digitally to their headquarters in Tel Aviv before the truck crossed the border, Dayan said. 

'We knew they'd chase us,' Cohen said. 'We'd taken their most sensitive secrets.'      

Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to go public with the results of the operation, going against a long-standing practice of secrecy involving Mossad activities.

Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's (pictured together at the Mossad headquarters in 2016) decision to go public with the results of the operation, going against a long-standing practice of secrecy involving Mossad activities

Cohen defended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's (pictured together at the Mossad headquarters in 2016) decision to go public with the results of the operation, going against a long-standing practice of secrecy involving Mossad activities

'It was important to us that the world will see this, but this thing should also resonate with the Iranian leadership, to tell them, "Dear friends: One, you have been infiltrated. Two, we see you.. Three, the era of ... lies is over",' Cohen said. 

Media in Israel operate under a decades-old policy that requires journalists to clear stories involving security matters through military censors. That Cohen's remarks apparently cleared the censors suggests Israel wanted to issue a new warning to Iran amid the Vienna nuclear negotiations.

Iran has repeatedly complained about Israel's attacks, with Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi warning as recently as Thursday that the incidents 'not only will be responded to decisively, but also certainly leave no option for Iran but to reconsider its transparency measures and cooperation policy.'

Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment over the comments by Cohen, who was replaced by former operative David Barnea. Cohen in the interview acknowledged he might one day seek the prime minister's office himself.


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'If a man endangers Israel, he must stop existing': Mossad chief appears to admit Israeli assassinations and blowing up Iranian nuclear plant in extraordinary TV interview 'If a man endangers Israel, he must stop existing': Mossad chief appears to admit Israeli assassinations and blowing up Iranian nuclear plant in extraordinary TV interview Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 10:38 Rating: 5

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