New Mossad chief Yossi Cohen declared on Wednesday that Iran was still a central threat for Israel, saying that "despite the nuclear agreement - and in my opinion because of it - the threat has become more significant."
Cohen took over Israel's national intelligence agency on Wednesday, replacing Tamir Pardo.
Speaking at a ceremony at the Mossad headquarters, the incoming Mossad head said that "The State of Israel is at the epicenter of the earthquake shaking the Middle East in recent years. The fanaticism of radical Islam has swept over states and is bringing them down. The intra-religious war within the Islam, and the strengthening of terror organizations around us, require the Mossad to thoroughly study the threat, thwart it, and contribute to national security in secrecy and with creativity.
"Iran continues calling for the annihilation of Israel, further enhancing its military capabilities, and deepening its hold in our region. Its terror proxies are means to achieving these goals and I know that the people of the Mossad have the ability to build up the agency's strength and provide an appropriate answer to that."
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outgoing Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, heads of departments in the organization, fighters, and other Mossad employees.
"The work of security knows no rest," Netanyahu said at the ceremony. "Israel is the most challenged country on Earth, a bastion of democracy in the heart of a region strewn with dangers. The first order in ensuring the existence of a living creature, of any living organism, is the identification of dangers in time and repelling them in time.
"I have always been proud of the many operations that you have led. As I would approve them, I didn't always approve them all but I approved the great majority of them. And if not, it was not just due to consideration of the dangers or the question of ethical standards against the risk; but I approved them out of an abiding faith in your operational abilities.
"And as someone who was – more or less – on the other side, and I always thought if I would send myself and my friends on these missions, but above all I know how much your abilities have developed, and if they did not develop on their own, you developed them. It is impressive to see the action being created, the challenge to constantly improve and advance; this process is very healthy and the Mossad is a very healthy body."
The prime minister expressed confidence that the new Mossad chief will know how to lead the organization forward and make it better.
"The challenges, I must tell you, will not wait for you, as you know, as you all certainly know. They pile up daily, not just on the desk but mainly in the field. The head of the Mossad bears a vast responsibility. But this is the essence of the story of our people over the generations, especially in the years of our national revival. Our strength depends on the willingness of the best of our sons and daughters to bear the yoke of responsibility in order to ensure the life, freedom and prosperity of the nation. I rely on you Yossi, like all citizens of Israel."
Ahead of Pardo's departure as the head of the Mossad, the agency released a statement concluding his tenure, noting: "When he was appointed to the role of the head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo nurtured and developed the four legs the organization's entire activity stands on: Operations, Intelligence, Technology and Logistics. In different internal events, Pardo stressed that the secret to the Mossad's success is the fact it is innovative, as well as its ability to combine operations with advanced technologies and intelligence capabilities.
"The Mossad under Tamir Pardo's command put an emphasis on, among other things, thwarting Iranian nuclear capabilities, foiling terror attacks and terror infrastructure all over the world, fighting against the smuggling of weapons to terror organizations, creating and nurturing ties with countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and creating new intelligence capabilities in a variety of topics. In the five years Pardo was at the head of the Mossad, the organization won five Israel Defense Prizes."
On Tuesday, the Mossad held a goodbye event for Tamir Pardo, attended by some 2,000 guests, including top Israeli officials.