Britain’s MI6 intelligence chief secretly visited Israel this week for talks with his Israeli counterparts about concerns that Iran may be considering breaching the 2015 nuclear deal and attempting to break out to a nuclear weapons capability, Israeli television reported on Friday night.
Channel 13 news said MI6 chief Alex Younger arrived in Israel on Monday and met with the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, and other Israeli intelligence chiefs.
Israel’s assessment is that Iran is “making preparations” within the provisions of the 2015 deal, and “getting ready,” but has not yet made the political decision to break out to the bomb, the TV report said.
Citing Western intelligence sources, it said the issue was also discussed by participants at last week’s Munich international security conference.
Iran, the report noted, has recently renewed its “industrial” production of centrifuges, “and is gearing up for the renewal of uranium enrichment” within the provisions of the deal.
The report described Iran’s current activity as “preparing the infrastructure… in an accelerated fashion” should the regime take the political decision to breach the accord.
Hours before the TV report, the UN’s nuclear watchdog in Vienna said Iran was continuing to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, despite the United States withdrawing from the pact and re-imposing sanctions.
In a confidential quarterly report distributed to its member states, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has been abiding with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The US pulled out of the deal in May and has been pressuring remaining signatories to abandon it as well.
In its report, the Vienna-based agency said its inspectors still have access to all sites and locations in Iran they needed to visit.
“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the Additional Protocol and enhances confidence,” the report stated, referring to the procedure detailing safeguards and tools for verification.
It noted that Iran’s stock of heavy water and low-enriched uranium continues to be under the limits set under the 2015 pact.
Last June, Iran’s nuclear chief inaugurated a new nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, which Iran said was geared toward producing centrifuges to operate within the limits of the nuclear deal.
Iranian state television broadcast an interview with Ali Akbar Salehi showcasing the facility at Natanz’s uranium enrichment center. In the interview, Salehi said its construction began even before the 2015 deal was signed.
Last month, Salehi bragged in another interview that Iran quietly purchased replacement parts for its Arak nuclear reactor while it was conducting negotiations for the deal under which it knew it would be required to destroy the original components.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns constantly that Iran has never abandoned its ambition to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. Last year, the Mossad spirited a huge haul of documents from what it said was Iran’s nuclear weapons archive, which Netanyahu said proved conclusively that Iran has lied to the world when claiming it has not been seeking to produce nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu said at the UN General Assembly in September that “The reason Iran didn’t destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse is because it hasn’t abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, it planned to use both of these sites in a few years when the time would be right to break out to the atom bomb.
“That won’t happen,” he vowed. “It won’t happen because what Iran hides, Israel will find.”