Israel threatened to destabilize the Iranian regime in the early nineties over Tehran’s relentless denial of involvement in the kidnapping of Israeli navigator Ron Arad who bailed out of his jet over Lebanon in 1986, Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth revealed Thursday.
According to the report Israel also tried to cash in on the economic crisis that hit Iran in 1993 with low oil prices and staggering foreign debt.
Israel negotiated a deal to the tune of USD 10 billion with Tehran in exchange for information on the fate of Arad, whom Israel believes was kidnapped in Lebanon and handed to Iran, dead or alive.
Part of a Mossad operation, an agent confirmed that he had met Arad in Lebanon and in Iran, reinforcing the belief among Israel’s intelligence community that the missing navigator is in Tehran’s hands.
The Israeli proposal to the Iranians was twofold. Israel would help Iran negotiate a compromise with the United States over Iranian assets to the tune of five billion dollars frozen by Washington in 1979 when the Shah was ousted and would settle a five billion dollar row with Iran over debts stemming from joint ownership of a company.
Still, the staggering sums and an endemic economic crisis did little to persuade Iran into cooperation.
“There has never been a man in history of man kind that saw so many efforts invested into locating and liberating him,” said a security official familiar with the intelligence file – codenamed “Body Heat” - for the location and repatriation of Arad.
With the failure of the economic maneuver, Israel’s intelligence agencies had to mull a new solution to pressure Iran into cooperation.
Iranian lies exposed
In the early nineties an Iranian delegation set off to Europe to negotiate long-term loans with western European countries as a last effort to save the economy from collapsing.
Israel’s intelligence agencies closely followed the Iranian delegation in Europe and succeeded in foiling a nasty strategy of deceit used by Tehran to get the most out of its foreign European lenders: Tehran instructed negotiators to tell each lender that other lenders have offered better rates and longer terms, lower and better than actually presented.
Then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin decided to exploit the intelligence reports to warn Iran that if Arad is not released Israel will stymie talks with Europe.
To punish Iran for its stubbornness on Arad, IDF Military Intelligence piled up a file detailing Iran’s fraudulent negotiations and dispatched then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and his deputy Yossi Beilin to Europe where the true face of Tehran was exposed.
Stunned by the wealth and accuracy of the facts presented by Israel, European capitals halted negotiations with Tehran.
Israel made it clear that it was behind the exposure of Tehran’s deceitful negotiations and warned that as long as Arad is not released, more Iranian lies would be exposed.