Former top mossad official Haim Tomer.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
EU countries push hard to obtain Israeli intelligence cooperation because “they recognize our abilities,” former Mossad official Haim Tomer said on Wednesday.
Discussing intelligence cooperation with foreign countries at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center in Tel Aviv, the former director of Tevel – the Mossad’s foreign intelligence cooperation – said that different political agendas between the EU and Israel did not harm intelligence cooperation.
Rather, he said, “the secrecy of the intelligence world allows cooperation separate from what goes on at the political” level.
At the same time, though Israeli-US intelligence cooperation has generally been considered excellent throughout recent US administrations, Tomer said there were some occasional limits on the Iran issue – once the Obama administration made the move for a deal with Tehran and the deal became a real possibility, “it became a problem sharing [related] intelligence with the US without things getting mixed with politics.”
Tomer was asked about former CIA director Michael Hayden’s statement that though the US and Israel cooperated in using the 2009-2010 Stuxnet computer virus against Iran’s nuclear program, at one point Israel went beyond what was agreed, creating tension between the two.
Tomer acknowledged that on some of these kinds of issues, “there were different ideas” between Israel and the US about what direction to move in, and that Hayden’s retrospective comments “somewhat encapsulate” the tensions.
Nevertheless, Tomer said, the cooperation “got results.”
The Stuxnet virus – which Israel has never formally acknowledged being involved in even though it has been confirmed by many foreign officials and some ex-Israeli officials by implication – is credited with delaying the development of Iran’s nuclear program for around two years.
Tomer said that despite excellent Israeli cooperation with many countries, including current public cooperation with moderate Sunni Arab countries, technological cooperation would still need to be limited because it could expose greater vulnerabilities and expose Israeli allies’ intelligence contributions.
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