Senior Israeli official tells New York Times the spy agency discovered the warehouse in 2016 and had it under surveillance; Trump briefed on raid by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen
Spies from Israel’s Mossad agency discovered the top-secret location of a warehouse used to store Iran’s nuclear weapons files, broke into the building, took half a ton of documents and managed to smuggle them back to Israel that same night, The New York Times reported late Monday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the daring operation as he displayed the trove of documents in a presentation aimed at proving that Iran has lied about its covert atomic weapons program.
However, he gave few details on how or when the agents managed what he called one of the “greatest achievements” of Israeli intelligence as reported by Times of Israel.
A senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a secret mission, told The Times that the Mossad had discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then.
The operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said, according to the paper.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen during a toast ceremony for the Jewish New Year on October 02, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO)
US President Donald Trump was informed of the operation by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen during a visit to Washington in January, the official said.
The official said the delay in making the material public was due to the time it took to analyze the documents, the vast majority of which were in Persian.
Netanyahu described the archive as looking like a “dilapidated warehouse” in the Shorabad District in southern Tehran.
“This is where they kept the atomic archives. Right here. Few Iranians knew where it was, very few, and also a few Israelis,” Netanyahu said.
“Now, from the outside, this was an innocent looking compound. It looks like a dilapidated warehouse. But from the inside, it contained Iran’s secret atomic archives locked in massive files,” he said.
He showed a picture of long rows of safes and said that the agents managed to bring back “half a ton of the material” consisting of 55,000 pages and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.
The cache, he said, contained “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.
“We’ve shared this material with the United States, and the United States can vouch for its authenticity,” he said of the information.