Mossad Chief Denies Opposing New Sanctions on Iran

PMO releases statement clarifying that he told U.S. senators 'in the absence of strong pressure, the Iranians will make no meaningful compromises.'

Mossad chief Tamir Pardo
Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. Moti Milrod

Mossad chief Tamir Pardo issued a rare press release on Thursday denying reports that he told U.S. senators he was opposed to further sanctions on Iran during its negotiations with world powers over its contentious nuclear program.

In a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, Pardo noted that he did meet with a delegation of senators on January 19, at their request, and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approval.

"Contrary to what has been reported, the Head of the Mossad did not say that he opposes imposing additional sanctions on Iran, " read the statement. Rather, "the Head of the Mossad emphasized in the meeting that the exceptional effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years are what brought Iran to the negotiating table."

The statement was released after the Bloomberg news service published a report that Pardo took a stance opposing Netanyahu's, by which further sanctions on Iran would negatively affect the negotiations.

"The Head of the Mossad noted that in negotiating with Iran, it is essential to present both carrots and sticks and that the latter are currently lacking," read the statement issued through the Prime Minister's Office. "The Head of the Mossad noted further that in the absence of strong pressure, the Iranians will make no meaningful compromises."

The statement issued by the PMO also referred to remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday night, according to which a high-ranking Israeli intelligence official told Kerry that further sanctions on Iran would be like throwing a grenade into the fire.

"Regarding the reported reference to "throwing a grenade," the Head of the Mossad did not use this expression regarding the imposition of sanctions, which he believes to be the sticks necessary for reaching a good deal with Iran," read the statement.

The Mossad chief "used this expression as a metaphor to describe the possibility of creating a temporary crisis in the negotiations at the end of which talks would resume under improved conditions. The Head of the Mossad pointed out explicitly that the bad agreement taking shape with Iran is likely to lead to a regional arms race," according to the statement.