What’s happened: The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns is in Israel for a series of work meetings.
- Yesterday he met with senior officials of the Mossad intelligence agency including the new head David Barnea.
- According to Channel 12 News the Mossad officials presented their ‘Raisi file’ an intelligence and personality profile of the new Iranian president. According to the report:
- Raisi is a radical extremist and cruel, having been responsible for the killing of thousands of Iranian civilians, some of whom he personally took part in and derived personal enjoyment from it.
- His personality traits were described as someone who is unstable and emotionally disturbed.
- The Mossad’s assessment is that it will not be possible for the world powers to reach an agreement with Raisi over Iran’s nuclear programme and even if they did, there is doubt that Raisi will honour any agreement. Therefore there needs to be new strategic approach in dealing with Iran.
- Prime Minister Bennett met with Burns this morning. They discussed tightening intelligence and security cooperation between Israel and the US, the Iranian threat and possibilities for expanding and deepening regional cooperation.
- Yesterday on a tour of the northern border, Defence Minister Gantz said, “Israel will not stand by while Iran advances its nuclear programme. We will operate in the time and place and via the means that we will determine.”
Context: Burns took over as director of the CIA in March this year and this marks one of his first meetings with an international partner, underlining the close cooperation between the CIA and Mossad.
- The visit coincides with high tension between Israel and Iran, following the attack on the UK ship in the Gulf, and the rocket fire by Iranian backed Hezbollah last Friday.
- Yesterday, Iranian sources reported a fire broke out in the petrochemical plant on the island of Kharg, in the Gulf. The cause of the fire remains unclear, and no casualties have been reported.
- Syrian state news reported that a fire had broken out on board a tanker that was docked at Latakia, the major port city in the north of the country.
- Iranian media reported that over the last two years Israel has attacked 14 Iranian ships in the Red and Mediterranean Sea. Although Iranian media described the vessels as ‘commercial’ it is suspected that they were carrying weapons for Iranian proxy militias or attempting to avoid the embargo by supplying Syria with oil.
- Before taking over as head of the CIA, Burns was a career diplomat. During the Obama administration, Burns served as Deputy Secretary of State. He lead the secret channel of talks with Iran, that eventually led to the JCPOA nuclear agreement.
- With Iranian’s President Raisi beginning to take form, the Israeli assessments suggests it’s unlikely there will be a return to the nuclear deal.
- Israel is hoping the US will lead an international pressure campaign to deter Iran and force it to stop its development towards a nuclear weapon. In order to prevent it, Israel believes the US needs to present a credible military threat along with significant economic and diplomatic sanctions.
Looking ahead: Burns is also expected to meet President Isaac Herzog.
- He will also visit Ramallah and meet Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as well as Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj. During the Trump administration, the CIA was the only US agency that kept relations with the PA, primarily focused on the role of the Palestinian security forces and their vital coordination with the IDF.
- Today, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is travelling to Morocco, the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister in 18 years. Lapid will inaugurate the Israeli diplomatic office in Rabat and will meet with his Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.