Mossad wins top defense prize for Iran nuclear heist
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Mossad wins top defense prize for Iran nuclear heist

Top-secret operation to raid Tehran warehouse and spirit out thousands of documents thought to have contributed to US decision to leave nuclear deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposes stolen files on Iran's nuclear program in a press conference in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposes stolen files on Iran's nuclear program in a press conference in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The 2019 Israel Security Prize will be awarded to the Mossad staff who broke into a warehouse holding Iran’s nuclear files and spirited the material out of the country, officials said Sunday.

In the clandestine operation inside Iran last year, Mossad agents stole Iranian nuclear archives in the Islamic Republic’s capital of Tehran and smuggled the thousands of documents to Israel. The content of the files showed that Iran had in the past worked to develop nuclear weapons.

The decision to award the prestigious prize was made by a committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, and who presented the findings of the raid in a much-publicized press appearance in April 2018.

The Israel Defense Prize is awarded each year by the president to individuals, units, or projects found to have significantly improved the security of the state with either recognition for a lifetime achievement or a unique contribution to defense.

Safes inside a warehouse in Shorabad, south Tehran, where Mossad agents discovered and extracted tens of thousands of secret files pertaining to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. (Prime Minister’s Office)

The committee examined all the parameters, from the risk aspect to the importance of the material obtained and the contribution it made to the security of the state.

The acquisition of the documents and files that were seized, which proved that Iran had been working to develop nuclear weapons, is thought to have factored in the Trump administration decision last year to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The defense prize has been awarded annually since 1958, but due to national security interests, the winners are sometimes shrouded in secrecy.

Last year, there were three winners, including the IDF project to locate terrorist attack tunnels from the Gaza Strip, a technology that reportedly thwarted hundreds of terror attacks by identifying potential terrorists using large amounts of data.

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