Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency issued a statement Thursday denying that it was opposed to new US sanctions against Iran over the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear programme.

“On January 19, 2015, the head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, met with a delegation of US senators at their request and with the approval of the Prime Minister,” said in a statement.

“Contrary to what has been reported, the head of the Mossad did not say that he opposes imposing additional sanctions on Iran,” it added.

Instead, Pardo emphasized “that the exceptional effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years are what brought Iran to the negotiating table.”

The Mossad does not usually issue public statements.

The statement was published after US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed Wednesday that an unnamed Israeli intelligence official opposed an Iran sanctions bill put forward by US Congressmen. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to be in favour of the bill.

“One of the top intelligence personnel within the Israeli intelligence field – I won’t name names, but this person was asked directly by a congressional delegation that visited there over the weekend what the effect of sanctions would be. And this person answered that it would be like throwing a grenade into the process,” Kerry said during a news conference with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

“Regarding the reported reference to ‘throwing a grenade,’ the head of the Mossad did not use this expression regarding the imposition of sanctions,” said the Mossad statement.

“He 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.”

Pardo also warned that the agreement taking shape was “bad” and would likely lead to a regional arms race.

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