On Tuesday, the new head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency suggested more Israeli covert attacks and assassinations inside Iran should be expected even as the US and other world powers are negotiating a revival of the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“The Iranian program will continue feeling Mossad’s might. We are well acquainted with the nuclear program and its various components, we know personally the factors that operate in it and also the forces that drive them,” David Barnea said at his swearing-in ceremony, as quoted by Israel’s Ynet.
Barnea said the JCPOA negotiations show that Israel might have to act alone against Iran. “The agreement with world powers that is taking shape only reinforces the sense of isolation in which we find ourselves on this issue,” he said. “I say it clearly — no, we do not intend to act according to the majority opinion since this majority will not bear the consequences for the erroneous assessment of this threat.”
Israel has a long history of covert attacks inside Iran. Most recently, Israel sabotaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, causing an explosion. The attack took place in April when the US and Iran began indirect negotiations in Vienna to restore the JCPOA. Last November, Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was gunned down in an apparent Israeli plot as tensions between the US and Iran were simmering in the final weeks of the Trump administration.
Yossi Cohen, Israel’s outgoing Mossad chief, also spoke on Tuesday and boasted about Israeli actions against Iran that took place under his watch. “We penetrated into the heart of hearts of the enemy Iran,” he said. “We acted to constantly gather intelligence and uncover its secrets, and undermined its self-confidence and haughtiness.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chimed in at the ceremony and said he was willing to attack Iran’s nuclear program even if it risked “friction” with the US. “If we have to choose, I hope it doesn’t happen, between friction with our great friend the United States and eliminating the existential threat — eliminating the existential threat,” he said.
The Israeli officials all claim Iran is moving quickly to develop a nuclear bomb. But if that were truly their concern, Israel would favor a revival of the JCPOA since it strictly limits Tehran’s nuclear program.