Two respected American journalists ran a story in Bloomberg News on Wednesday, Jan. 21, citing claims that Israeli Mossad officials were opposed to increasing sanctions on Iran.
The story claimed that the Israeli spy officials’ position was that if the U.S. Congress were to pass additional sanctions legislation against the Islamic Republic, even if such sanctions were only triggered if the current negotiations between Iran and the U.S. and its allies, the P5+1, that would “tank” the negotiations. This claim was used to show that the Mossad is in alignment with the U.S. administration’s view, and is contrary to the public position of the Israeli prime minister.
However, today, Jan. 22, something extremely unusual happened. The head of the Mossad issued a public statement in which he denied that he is against additional sanctions.
Israel Radio reporter Chico Menashe reported that the following is an accurate account of what happened, as translated at IsraelMatzav:
On 19 January 2015, Mossad Chairman Tamir Pardo met with a delegation of American Senators. The meeting took place at the Senators’ request, and with the Prime Minister’s approval.
Contrary to the report, the Mossad Chairman did not say that he opposes additional sanctions against Iran. In the meeting, the Mossad Chairman emphasized the unusual effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran a number of years ago in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
The Mossad Chairman pointed out that the negotiations with Iran must be conducted using ‘carrots and sticks,’ and the ‘sticks’ are currently missing. The Mossad Chairman pointed out that without strong pressure, it will not be possible to bring about significant compromises on the Iranian side.
The Mossad Chairman did not relate to the use of the term ‘hand grenade’ with respect to the imposition of sanctions, because in his eyes, these are the ‘sticks’ that will help to obtain a good agreement. He used this term to describe the possibility of creating a temporary breakdown in the talks, at the end of which the negotiations will be restarted under better conditions.
The Mossad Chairman explicitly pointed out that the agreement that is being reached with Iran is bad, and may lead to a regional arms race.
In other words, it is at best a misunderstanding, at worst a complete fabrication, to say that the Israeli spy agency is opposed to the imposition of additional sanctions to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weaponry. It may be true that the head of the Mossad said that any additional sanctions efforts made now would tank the negotiations, but Pardo does not believe the current deal is a good one and so does not see the breakdown in negotiations as a bad thing.
While it does appear that various U.S. delegations met with various Israeli officials, and that there was some overlap as well as some gaps in messaging which would allow differing interpretations of who believes what would happen, two statements can be clearly made:
One, the head of the Mossad does not believe the current U.S. and allies’ deal with Iran is a good one, and Two, the Mossad chairman believes there needs to be additional sanctions imposed on Iran to stop it from reaching nuclear weapons capability.