NY Times: Israel ‘torched its way’ to Iranian nuclear secrets

An extensive feature in the New York Times on Sunday provides new details about the Mossad operation in January through which Israel captured 50,000 pages of evidence detailing Iran’s nuclear program.

By: World Israel New Staff

In January, Israel used a Mossad-orchestrated operation in Iran to capture over 50,000 pages and 163 compact discs of memos, videos and plans related to Tehran’s nuclear program.

On Sunday, the New York Times revealed new details about the operation that one of its reporters gleaned after viewing key documents from the heist, at the invitation of the Israeli government.

The Times reporter concluded after reviewing the documents that “[d]espite Iranian insistence that its [nuclear] program was for peaceful purposes, the country had worked in the past to systematically assemble everything it needed to produce atomic weapons.”

Back in April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at a similar conclusion in a presentation in which he reviewed the central findings from the trove of evidence.

In addition to viewing the evidence itself, the Times reporter also received details regarding how the Mossad pulled off the daring operation. Specifically, the article explains that the Mossad agents “mov[ed] in on a warehouse in a drab commercial district of Tehran [and] knew exactly how much time they had to disable the alarms, break through two doors, cut through dozens of giant safes and get out of the city with a half-ton of secret materials: six hours and 29 minutes.”

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“Once the Iranian custodians arrived, it would be instantly clear that someone had stolen much of the country’s clandestine nuclear archive, documenting years of work on atomic weapons, warhead designs and production plans,” the article explains.

The agents used “torches that burned at least 3,600 degrees, hot enough, as they knew from intelligence collected during the planning of the operation, to cut through the 32 Iranian-made safes,” the Times reports.

While the reporter was provided with these details, the Israeli government refused to reveal how the evidence was removed from Iranian territory, noting, “There was no chase, said Israeli officials, who would not disclose whether the documents left by land, air or sea — though an escape from the coast, just a few hours’ drive from Tehran, appears the least risky.”

The article also quotes a number of experts, including Robert Kelley, a nuclear engineer and former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency, who commented to the Times, “The papers show these guys were working on nuclear bombs.”

Following Netanyhau’s presentation in April, President Donald Trump announced the US would leave the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which lifted crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for concessions that the deal’s critics argued provided no protection against Iran’s nuclear breakout in the future.

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Since signing the deal in 2015, Tehran continued to test intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in addition to funding and arming terror proxies throughout the region, such as Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen.