ANALYSIS: More details revealed about Mossad operation in Tehran

A Hebrew article has just been published on the Mossad operation in Tehran this year.

Yochanan Visser ,

Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran
Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran

Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, author of the book "The Secret War With Iran," recently published a new essay on the Mossad operation in Tehran, Iran on January 31 of this year.

Bergman, a journalist with contacts within the various Israeli security and secret services, recently obtained access to some of the documents and disks that a team of Mossad agents managed to smuggle to Israel after a spectacular burglary in a secret warehouse in Tehran.

The Mossad team had observed the warehouse for about a year before the break-in and somehow knew which of the 32 enormous safes contained relevant information about Iran's secret atomic weapon program AMAD.

"The bottom line of the material is clear and sharp and indisputable: it is a mega-scam in which senior Iranian officials and hundreds of people participated for years," Bergman wrote.

"For two decades Iran denied that it had a military nuclear project. But the contents of the safes brought to Israel tell a different, completely opposite, and undeniable story: For years, Iran has been conducting a covert nuclear project aimed at producing five nuclear bombs," he asserted.

Officially, Iran stopped the AMAD project when the US Army invaded Iraq during the Purim Festival in March 2003.

However, in the fall of the same year, the Iranians opened a new secret nuclear weapon project under the name 'Sfand' which was headed by nuclear scientist Fakhri Zada.

Zada received a letter from Abassi-Duwani, another Iranian nuclear expert, who advised Zada to publish the parts of the atomic project that were peaceful in character in order to deceive the international community.

Neutron research, for example, had to remain secret, wrote Abassi-Duwani, because it would expose Iran's true intentions.

A letter written by then-Iranian Defense Minister Simhani stated that Sfand would include: The secret project Serab 1, a facility for an underground test with an atomic bomb and Serab 2 and 3, facilities for the production and integration of a nuclear warhead for the Shihab 3 ballistic missile.

Another document seen by Bergman described the transfer of 70 percent of the AMAD team to the Sfand project.

At the same time, Iran did everything in its power to hide the secret parts of its nuclear project - the military dimensions of the program - from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

For this reason, the IAEA was initially refused entry to the Parchin military base. Photographs seized by the Mossad showed Iran had built two large metal tubes for the testing of detonators for an atomic bomb.

When the IAEA was finally granted access to Parchin, it became clear that Iran had removed all evidence of its secret nuclear activities on the base.

The photographs of the facility in Parchin were made by Iranian scientists who took "selfies" standing next to the test chambers.

"Presumably none of the photographers imagined that his pictures would ever reach Israel," Bergman wrote, adding that the photos he had seen proved beyond doubt that Iran had lied about the military dimensions of its nuclear program.

Iran had, for example, always claimed that it did not have the equipment for locating neutrons, but the photographs clearly show that this was a lie and that Iran was in possession of all the necessary equipment for that part of its atomic weapon program.

The Iranians also had a sophisticated camera that could capture the moment of the chain reaction that leads to the detonation of an atomic bomb.

The archive of 55,000 pages and 182 disks stolen by the Mossad contained further evidence that Iran was actually developing a nuclear weapon in underground bunkers and with equipment that the Islamic Republic had always claimed was not in its possession.

The Sfand project still exists, according to Bergman, who furthermore wrote that during the negotiations which led to the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, the US and the IAEA, deliberately did not go to extremes to force the Iranians to disclose all military dimensions of their nuclear program.

The Mossad began preparations for the burglary in the Iranian archives in early 2017. During what was dubbed 'Operation Ocean-11,' the Israeli team was in constant contact with the head of Israel's secret service Yossi Cohen while the burglary itself was carried out by a few dozen Mossad agents.

The team did not know that the archive also contained disks about Iran's subversive nuclear activities and Cohen, who was watching the operation in Israel, personally instructed that this part of the archive should also be taken to Israel.

At five o'clock in the morning, the team left the warehouse in Tehran and smuggled the archives via two different routes to Azerbaijan. From there, the archive was flown to Israel.

The burglary was discovered by the Iranians shortly after the Mossad team left the building. The Iranian regime used 12,000 members of various security services to pursue the burglars.

We will probably never find out how the Mossad team managed to stay out of the hands of the Iranians during the trip to Azerbaijan, 500 kilometers from Tehran.

The seized documents were translated and reviewed by a large team of experts and Farsi-speakers from the IDF's 8200 cyber spy unit.

The countries which signed the nuclear agreement with Iran were subsequently given access to the documents stolen by the Mossad, but except for the United States, none of them decided to leave the JCPOA.

"Nuclear experts who examined the documents say that the infrastructure in Iran is far more extensive than that needed to produce five 'only' bombs," Bergman reported referring to media reports about Iran’s initial plan to produce five nuclear bombs of 10 kilotons each.

A Western intelligence source told Bergman the following:

"The nuclear archive is actually an effort by the Iranian Ministry of Defense to preserve knowledge from the period of the 'Amad Plan' from 1998 to 2003 and hide it from the international community, especially from the IAEA, for possible future use."

Israel, meanwhile, is convinced the Iranian regime is continuing to make progress in the Sfand project. Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed another secret location for manufacturing nuclear weapons in his speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations on Thursday.

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice-weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva.