The director of England’s MI6 intelligence agency reportedly visited Israel in secret last week, amidst concerns by both countries that Iran is restarting its nuclear efforts.
According to a report by Israel’s Channel 13, MI6 chief Alex Younger touched down in Israel on Monday and held a series of meetings with Yossi Cohen, who heads the Mossad espionage agency, as well as other senior Israeli intelligence officials.
While Iran had suspended its nuclear program under the 2015 Nuclear Deal, a top Israeli defense official believes that Tehran is “making preparations” and “getting ready” to launch a comprehensive effort towards obtaining nuclear weapons.
The deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. In 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal and is pressuring other European cosigners to do the same—yet Tehran maintains that it will remain committed to its terms.
The Mossad and Israeli military intelligence believe that while Iran is presently still keeping to the JCPOA guidelines, it is simultaneously quietly strengthening its capabilities to allow for the manufacture of a nuclear weapon in a relatively short period of time, should the decision be made to do so.
The source said that Iran “is gearing up for the renewal of uranium enrichment within the provisions of the deal,” and “preparing the infrastructure in an accelerated fashion” for an eventual breakout.
In stark contrast to the Israeli and British intelligence estimates, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on Friday stating the exact opposite. In the classified quarterly report, the nuclear watchdog said that Iran is keeping with the terms of the JCPOA, has shown no signs of pulling out of the agreement, and is cooperating with UN inspectors.
“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhances confidence,” the report concluded.
Israeli and British intelligence have been known to collaborate in their efforts to counter Iran in general and its nuclear program in particular. Last month, a report in the British media said that the Mossad and MI6 worked together with the CIA to rescue an Iranian nuclear technician who had fallen under suspicion. The Mossad rescued the 47-year-old scientist and passed him on to the British, who then smuggled him into England on a boat filled with asylum-seeking Arab refugees.