Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has reiterated his objection to launching a preemptive strike on Iran in the near future, saying "an attack on Iran before you explore all of other approaches is not the right way how to do it."
In an interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes," which will be aired in its entirety on Sunday, Dagan said that instead of military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, the international community should focus on fomenting regime change in Tehran.
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"It's our duty to help anyone who likes to present an open opposition against their regime in Iran," the former head of Israel's intelligence service stated. He refused to say whether Israel had supported the youth groups that held demonstrations across Iran after the last round of Iranian elections.
'Not our rational.' Ahmadinegad (R) at nuke plant (Photo: EPA)
Dagan, who sparked controversy last year when he stated that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear reactors would be "a silly idea that would not grant any advantage," said any attack on Iran would have to be against "a large number of targets," adding that there is still time before such drastic actions need to be taken.
"The regime in Iran is a very rational one," the former top Israeli spymaster told "60 Minutes." Asked by interviewer Lesley Stahl if President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also rational, Dagan said, "The answer is yes. Not exactly our rational, but I think he is rational."
According to the ex-Mossad chief, the Islamic Republic is not rational in the Western-thinking sense, "but no doubt, they are considering all the implications of their actions...They will have to pay dearly...and I think the Iranians at this point in time are...very careful on the project. They are not running."
Dagan also said he believes the US will intervene if necessary." (President Barack Obama) said openly that the military option is on the table and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the US. The issue of Iran armed with a nuclear capability is not an Israeli problem; it's an international problem," he declared.
When Stahl suggested that it seemed he prefers to wait and have the US attack Iranian nuclear sites, Dagan replied, "If I prefer that someone will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it."
Ultimately, the former head of Mossad said, the Iranians cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, but an attack on their nuclear sites now would be a mistake.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday a US military attack on Iran would do more damage than a strike carried out by Israeli forces.
In an interview with the National Journal, Panetta said, "If they (Israelis) decided to do it, there's no question that it would have an impact, but I think it's also clear that if the United States did it, we would have a hell of a bigger impact."
President Obama said Tuesday the US would stand by Israel if all other courses of action vis-à-vis Iran fail, but warned that a premature military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities may cost the US and Israel dearly: "There are consequences for Israel if this happens prematurely, there are consequences for the US as well."
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