Outgoing deputy head of Mossad, who announced his retirement last month, criticizes Israel’s policy on Iran, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to undermine the 2015 nuclear agreement, and the country's handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The man, identified only as "A'", has been with the clandestine organization for 34 years, during which he oversaw Mossad’s prominent fighter division, as well as some of the organization’s most daring operations.
In an exclusive interview with Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth, he talks about the dangerous operation to compromise Iran's nuclear deal and voices his opinion on the government's approach on recent crises.
In one operation, the agency was tasked by Israel’s political echelon with stealing an archive containing confidential files from the heart of Tehran in an effort to get former U.S. President Donald Trump to quit the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“It was clear that if we manage to get the Americans to pull out of the agreement, it will collapse eventually,” said A’, who lauded the operation, but criticized the government for how it handled the consequences.
"In March 2021, we have a situation where Iran is enriching uranium at Fordow, Kashan and Natanz,” said A’. “They have also accumulated 2.5 tons of enriched uranium, and now also the advanced centrifuges. Our situation is worse today than during the nuclear agreement.”
A’ criticized the government's overall approach to the Iranian nuclear threat, which the Mossad categorizes as existential, claiming the government is not treating the issue as such.
According to the deputy chief, the government constantly pushes for the issues of surface-to-air missiles, Iran’s regional entrenchment and terrorism to be part of any negotiations with Tehran, which in turn bumps the nuclear issue down the pecking order.
“In my opinion, Israel has been compromising on the nuclear agreement for the past two years because they want to achieve everything, and in the meantime, Iran is accumulating fissile material (key component of nuclear weapons)."
The former Mossad official also criticized the trend to publicly reveal some of the agency's most sensitive operations.
For instance, in 2018 Netanyahu staged a press conference and revealed to the world the files from the classified Iran's nuclear program archive, stolen by the Mossad team from Tehran.
He also slammed what he views as the organization's gradual loss of ability to operate independently. For instance, at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mossad was entrusted to develop a plan on how best to deal with coronavirus. That plan, however, was shelved last April by Netanyahu without any explanation.
“Compare [Netanyahu’s] treatment of the coronavirus to his treatment of the Iranian nuclear program,” said A’. “The amounts of uranium Iran has accumulated as well as its regional expansion - it's all bad. But the operations [the Mossad] undertook? All successful. We would have achieved the same with the pandemic.”
A’ added that despite the success of Israel’s coronavirus vaccination drive, he considers the treatment of the pandemic botched. “We have 6,000 dead, This is in no way a success.”