British intelligence MI6’s chief Alex Younger met recently with
Mossad director Yossi Cohen in Israel to coordinate intelligence efforts over
concerns that Iran may be gearing up to race toward developing a nuclear weapon,
the Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.
According to a Channel 13 report on Friday night, the meeting took place at the beginning of last week, and signaled a new level of seriousness in Western intelligence concerns regarding Iran.
Although Israel has been warning the world that Tehran would find
ways to cheat on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the UK and other EU countries have
continued to support the deal – even actively opposing new US sanctions imposed
in August and November.
In recent weeks, the EU has raised its pressure on Iran to cease ballistic missile testing and its interventions in Syria, though those issues were left out of the nuclear deal.
The UK and the EU’s viewing of Iran’s secret nuclear files to make five nuclear weapons – shown to them after the files were obtained by a Mossad operation in January 2018 which Cohen directly presided over – is believed to have set off red flags.
In addition, Iranian leaders have publicly ramped-up their rhetoric of threats to restart enriching uranium for nuclear weapons at a larger volume following the US’s new sanctions.
Tehran’s statements have also included indications that they can
easily undo any changes they made to their Arak plutonium nuclear reactor as
part of the deal to reopen the path to a weapon using plutonium.
At the same time, the IAEA continues to issue reports, including on Friday, stating that to date, Iran has not violated the nuclear deal.
This would mean that regardless of whatever threat Iran might pose if and when it decides to leave the deal – barring a current clandestine program that even the Mossad has not detected – Iran’s volume of uranium is around a third of what would be needed for a nuclear weapon.
There are ongoing debates about whether it would take Iran six months or a full year to enrich enough uranium for a weapon, and it is also unknown how long it would take for Tehran to be able to deliver a nuclear bomb on a missile.
Israeli military intelligence recently estimated that the whole process could take around two years, but past estimates on such issues regarding North Korea have been both overly optimistic and pessimistic at different stages.