On “60 Minutes,” Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan Discusses Iran

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At the AIPAC policy conference in early March, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the threat of Iran’s nuclear program. He suggested the U.S. and Israel were in lockstep on key policy towards Iran—both saw containment as inconceivable, and left the military option on the table—but stressed Israel held the right to defend itself.

“We’ve waited for diplomacy to work, we’ve waited for sanctions to work, none of us can afford to wait much longer,” Netanyahu ominously intoned. “As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”

In a publicly broadcasted interview, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan spoke about the hard-pressing issue of Iran, and seemed to dismiss notions that Israel will exercise the military option on Tehran in the near future.

“An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it,” Dagan explained. While many have cited the inefficacy of sanctions and other methods in halting Iran’s nuclear program, Dagan has maintained that Tehran will act rationally and will respond to international pressures if they are strongly imposed.

“No doubt that 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,” the experienced official noted. For Dagan, however, strengthening the Iranian opposition held the greatest promise for putting an end to Tehran’s controversial activity.

“It’s our duty to help anyone who likes to present an open opposition against their regime in Iran,” he stressed.

Not only did he believe there was more time for other methods to tackle the mounting problem, but Dagan was also skeptical a military strike would cause adequate damage to wholly destroy Iran’s plants and markedly halt the development of a nuclear weapons capability.

“You’ll have to deal with a large number of targets,” he clarified, after saying there may be more than a dozen nuclear-related sites on the military agenda.

Even if a strike were to inflict worthwhile damage, Dagan expressed concern about the repercussions of a possible Israeli mission in terms of the retaliation it might provoke from the regime and its terrorist proxies.

“We are going to ignite, at least from my point of view, a regional war,” he explained. “And wars, you know how they start. You never know how you are ending it.”

“It will be a devastating impact on our ability to continue with our daily life,” Dagan added. “I think that Israel will be in a very serious situation for quite a time.”

Raising another question on reports brewing regarding an Israeli strike and its details, the former Mossad leader said that even if a hit were to be orchestrated to wipe out Iran’s nuclear facilities, he would rather the United States take care of it.

“If I prefer that somebody will do it, I always prefer that American will do it,” Dagan suggested.

Dagan served for eight years in his position as chief of the Mossad. Last May, he was quoted as having called rumors to attack Iran “the stupidest thing [he] has ever heard.” In the latest interview, which aired on “60 Minutes” Sunday, Dagan suggested that Israel could wait another three years before reconsidering the military option.