The former chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency warned against a military strike on Iran at this juncture.
In a transcript of an interview to air Sunday in the United States on CBS's “60 Minutes, Meir Dagan said an attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it.
He also said that while the regime of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might appear irrational, it probably is taking a sober look at the consequences of its nuclear ambitions.
The Iranian regime is maybe not exactly rational, based on what I call Western thinking, but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions, said Dagan. I think the Iranians at this point in time are ... very careful on the [nuclear] project.
Dagan’s views appear to contradict much of the hawkish rhetoric coming from the Israeli government regarding Iran, particularly from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – both of whom have strongly suggested Israel may attack Iran to thwart its nuclear programs.
We won't accept a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons, because we face an existential threat, Netanyahu told Israeli media upon returning from a trip to Washington.
While Iran has repeatedly insisted its program is designed for purely peaceful purposes, many in Israel, the United States and Western Europe are convinced the regime is building nuclear weapons.
Dagan, a native of the Soviet Union who emigrated to Israel, agrees with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the best way to deal with Iran is diplomacy and economic sanctions. He cited the logistical difficulties inherent in a strike on Iran’s suspected nuclear sites, which would have to involve “a large number of targets.”
“It’s our duty to help anyone who likes to present an open opposition against their regime in Iran,” Dagan told 60 Minutes, indicating Western powers should seek a regime change in Iran by supporting opposition groups within the country rather than through military action.
He added, however, Obama is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the U.S. The issue of Iran armed with a nuclear capability is not an Israeli problem; it’s an international problem.”
If a military strike becomes necessary, Dagan seemed to suggest the United States should take charge, not Israel. “If I prefer that someone will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it,” he said.
Dagan ran Mossad from 2002 until early 2011 and according to several reports is believed to have been involved in planning the assassinations of a number of Iranian nuclear scientists during his tenure.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu on Thursday addressed the timeline of a potential Israeli attack on Iran, saying an attack wouldn't come in a matter of days or weeks, but it's also not a matter of years, the Jerusalem Post cited.
The U.S., Israel's closest ally, has urged leaders to give sanctions a chance to work before making any pre-emptive strike. The paper said Netanyahu hasn't ruled out diplomacy.
I hope that the pressure on Iran will work and we can peacefully convince them to tear down their nuclear program, the prime minister stated.