Former Top US Intel Official: World Is ‘Much Safer Place’ Due to ‘Heroism’ of Israel’s Mossad
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Thursday, a former top US intelligence official hailed the recent Mossad operation near Tehran that obtained thousands of documents related to the Iranian nuclear program, saying it showed “the incredible potency, imagination, and heroism of Israel’s intelligence services.”
Information found in the documents was unveiled on Monday in a televised presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described it as conclusive proof that Iran had consistently lied about the existence and nature of its nuclear program.
Asked about the significance of Netanyahu’s revelations, former National Intelligence Manager for Iran Norman Roule — who also spent three decades at the CIA working on Middle East issues — said, “The world is a much safer place, Israel and America are certainly much safer places, because of the heroism of Israel’s intelligence services.”
He added the Iran operation “would have required great preparation, a great sense of risk, and a type of attention to detail and planning for which Israel’s intelligence services are rightly well-known and rightly praised.”
As to the ramifications of the information revealed, Roule stated, “The material as explained thus far does not seem to change two fundamental judgments: First is that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program in 2003 as stated in the 2007 National Intelligence Assessment. And second, that Iran has not reconstituted its nuclear weapons program since that time.”
However, he noted, “the fact that Iran has retained a cache of materials of this size and scale is very troubling. It will add strong ammunition for those who claim that Iran’s waiting for restrictions in the deal to end so that it may reconstitute its weapons program. I also believe that the vast quantity of the material is such that, though our judgments have not changed, it will not surprise me if we uncover new information that tells us that Iran has elements of its program it chose to hide from the international community.”
Referring to the P5+1 countries who negotiated the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Roule asserted that the material “shows clearly that Iran has lied to its people, to the P5+1 members, and the world. The cache shows Iran cannot be trusted. And it shows that the JCPOA’s robust inspection effort led by the International Atomic Energy Agency is needed more than ever.”
Nevertheless, he stated, the evidence indicated that Iran could not immediately reconstitute its nuclear program: “It just shows that Iran kept the cookbook, the recipe for the program.”
Asked how Iran would react to Israel’s intelligence coup, Roule replied, “They will respond as usual — by lying, by propaganda. … They will then no doubt have a meeting where they say, ‘Who is responsible for this terrible security failure?’ And they will then watch and see how the West responds to this material. And we need to respond by vigorously pushing the IAEA to investigate all this material, and demanding immediate access to any sites, personnel, and equipment identified in the data. And if Iran does not comply, we need to look at this as a credible justification for a snapback of sanctions.”
“Snapback” refers to the reinstitution of sanctions on Iran that were rescinded as part of the JCPOA. This would be complicated due to the interest in economic investment in Iran that followed the deal.
Asked whether the Israeli intelligence presented by Netanyahu should push President Donald Trump and European leaders to drop the deal or at least insist on significant reforms, Roule stated, “You need to answer this in two ways: First, the main themes have already been known since 2007. And the fact that Iran’s Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif is a liar has been known to everyone for years. So there’s nothing new here. Also, the information that is put forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presentation was previously shared — per press reports — with President Trump, so he knew this as well. I think that what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presentation does is it carefully explains to the American people and to the world the nature of this discovery.”
The consequences of this “underscore the need to push Iran back very hard in all areas, and that includes Iran’s threat to Israel and the region and its ballistic missile program. And I believe strongly that this pressure will require sanctions if we are to avoid conflict, and that Europe in the coming days must produce a legitimate, reasonable, and serious sanctions proposal against Iran to deal with its regional and missile program as well as its nuclear issues.”
Roule noted that the problem with Iran was not confined to its nuclear program, but also its regional aggression, manifested by its direct intervention in the fighting in Syria and its sponsorship of terrorist and military proxies in Lebanon and Yemen.
“Because Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been dismantled and is under such international oversight, I think the most serious threat to stability and lives in region will come from Iran’s work with proxies and surrogates in Yemen and in Syria,” Roule said, pointing out this was not merely a threat to Israelis and Arabs, but also the many others who live and work in the Middle East.
“The missiles shot against Riyadh are a threat to the citizens of dozens of countries, not just Saudis, so this is an international threat,” he stated. “And the persistent efforts of Iran to build air defenses, missile, and other terrorist facilities in Damascus should be seen as a threat to the lives of Israelis as well as to Jordan and to the many thousands of other nationalities who are fortunate enough to live in these wonderful countries.”