In stunning, revelatory interview, ex-Mossad chief warns Iran, defends Netanyahu
Yossi Cohen, who retired as head of the Mossad last week, provided highly specific details of recent Mossad activity against Iran, his interactions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his role in Israel’s normalization with the UAE, and his own undercover career in an extraordinary interview on Israeli television broadcast on Thursday night.
Cohen intimated that his agency blew up Iran’s underground centrifuge facility at Natanz, gave a precise description of the 2018 operation in which the Mossad stole Iran’s nuclear archive from safes in a Tehran warehouse, confirmed that Iran’s assassinated top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh had been in Mossad’s sights for years, and said the regime needs to understand that Israel means what it says when it vows to prevent Iran attaining nuclear weapons.
In what would appear to be the most revelatory interview ever given by a Mossad chief so close to the end of his active service, Cohen, who was appointed by Netanyahu, said he did not rule out seeking to become prime minister one day, though he wasn’t contemplating such an ambition at the moment.
The interview was presumably approved by Israel’s military censors, and Cohen was circumspect on numerous occasions, but nonetheless talked about his career and key operations with an openness and detail radically atypical of spy chiefs, especially those whose service has only recently ended.
Early in the more than an hour of conversations for journalist Ilan Dayan’s “Uvda” (Fact) documentary show on Israel’s Channel 12, Cohen indicated that he was deeply familiar with Iran’s various nuclear sites, and said that, if given the opportunity, he would take Dayan to the underground “celler” at Natanz, where, he said, “the centrifuges used to spin.”
Cohen did not explicitly confirm responsibility for sabotage at Natanz in the interview, but said more generally: “We say very clearly [to Iran]: We won’t let you get nuclear weapons. What don’t you understand?”
Dayan noted that two major blasts at Natanz were attributed in foreign reports to the Mossad in the past year, and said “a huge quantity of explosives” were built into a marble platform used to balance the centrifuges.
Regarding Fakhrizadeh, identified by Israel as the father of Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program, who was killed in an ambush near Tehran in November 2020 that has been widely attributed to Israel, Cohen said that he was watched by Mossad for years and that the Mossad was physically close to him before November 2020.
Fakhrizadeh “most troubled us from the point of view of the science, the knowledge, the scientists of the Iranian military nuclear program,” said Cohen, and therefore “he was a target for [intelligence] gathering for many years.”
Interviewer Dayan said of Fakhrizadeh’s killing: “Yossi Cohen cannot take responsibility for this action, but his personal signature is on the entire operation.”