Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment Monday of David Barnea as the new head of the country’s intelligence service Mossad. 

According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Netanyahu chose Barnea, who has been serving as the deputy head of the espionage agency since 2018.

The state-owned KAN TV channel reported that Netanyahu received approval from Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit for the appointment.

At a ceremony in which he conferred the Prime Minister’s Award for exceptional Mossad officers, Netanyahu said Mossad’s top task is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“Whether an agreement has been reached [with Iran] or not, we will do everything to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, because the issue revolves around our very existence. This is your first mission,” he added.

The 56-year-old Barnea, who has been working in the Mossad for 25 years, also served in the Sayeret Matkal special operations force of the Israeli Army.

Barnea will succeed outgoing spymaster Yossi Cohen, who took office in 2016 and will retire on June 1 after five and a half years.

Netanyahu had specified the name of Cohen’s successor with the letter “D” only, for security reasons.

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