Israeli espionage agency's former chief Yossi Cohen has claimed that Mossad has carried out “countless operations” under his leadership, including in the “heartland” of Iran, to foil the Islamic Republic's ambitious nuclear programme.
Speaking at an event in Switzerland to mark 125 years since the First Zionist Congress of 1897, Mr Cohen also hit out at the emerging nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, the Times of Israel newspaper reported.
“During my term as Mossad director, countless operations were conducted against Iran's nuclear programme,” he said on Monday.
“Without going into too many details, I can tell you the Mossad had many successes in the fight against Iran's nuclear programme," Mr Cohen stressed.
“We operated around the world and on Iranian soil itself, in the very heartland of the ayatollahs," the 60-year-old former top spy chief claimed.
Touching upon the much-publicised operation to snatch the Iranian nuclear files, a haul then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu displayed with prominence in front of the world community, Mr Cohen said that it showed “clear evidence” that Tehran lied about the military dimensions of its atomic programme.
Mentioning the ongoing nuclear talks, he reiterated Israel's position that it “will continue to do whatever needs to be done” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms if a deal is signed.
“We can never allow a regime that calls for our destruction to get its finger on the nuclear trigger,” Mr Cohen asserted.
“Iran seeks to encircle Israel, from Gaza in the south to Lebanon and Syria in the north. It funds, trains and arms terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, enabling them to shoot thousands of rockets at Israel's civilian population,” Mr Cohen noted.
“This fanatical regime must never obtain the ability to accelerate its weapon of mass destruction that would be used against the Jewish state,” he added.
The former top spy's comments came at a time when the world powers are negotiating with Iran over the roadmap to revive a 2015 accord, which would see sanctions lifted against Iran in exchange for restricting its rapidly advancing nuclear programme.
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly also known as the Iran nuclear deal or simply Iran deal, was an accord signed between Iran and the P5 1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), together with the European Union, which gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme to guarantee that it could not develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran has maintained that its nuclear programme is meant for peaceful purposes and denies wanting to develop nuclear weapons.
But Israel contends that Iran is trying to fool the world and its nuclear programme poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.
It has vowed to foil Iran's nuclear ambitions using all “options on the table”, basically a hint that it would not hesitate from the use of military means if required.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has slammed the emerging deal during the ongoing negotiations saying the “negotiators are letting Tehran manipulate the talks”.
Then US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, but EU-coordinated negotiations on reviving the deal began in April 2021 before coming to a standstill in March and picking up again in August this year.
US President Joe Biden's administration has repeatedly said it believes that diplomacy is the best way to resolve the crisis.
Israel has been openly opposing the emerging deal.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)