Thursday 05 April 2012

Dagan: Israel should trust Obama to stop Iran nukes

JPost -- Israel should trust US President Barack Obama when he says that he will not let Iran build a nuclear weapon, former Mossad head Meir Dagan told The Jerusalem Post this week.

"If the US president says that he is not going to allow Iran to reach nuclear capability, if we are not going to trust him, then who are we going to trust?" Dagan said.

He told the Post that Israel was making a mistake by portraying the issue of Tehran's nuclear ambitions as one of Israel against Iran, and should leave the question to the international community.

"We are now in a situation where it [Iran's nuclear program] is the main interest of most of the countries in the region and the US and the international community," he said. "We never, ever had anything against the people of Iran, and I think that a problem that is creating such a great threat to the region and to the stability of the region and the economy of the region should be dealt with as an international issue."

Dagan, who stepped down as head of the Mossad just over a year ago and now heads oil, gas and uranium exploration company Gulliver Energy, said that a strike on Iran would not be able to halt the Islamic Republic's drive for nuclear weapons, as such a move could only destroy infrastructure, not nuclear know-how.

"Knowledge on the nuclear issue is something that you are not able to prevent, because knowledge is something that remains in the brains of people. You are not capable, really, of eliminating knowledge from people," he said.

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He repeated his view that an attack would lead Israel into a regional war conducted mostly through Tehran's proxies, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and perhaps even Syria.

Given that a regional war is the likely outcome of attacking Iran and that it would only be able only to delay the project, not to stop it, the question arises whether an attack is the best solution to the issue, Dagan said.

"I believe that such a solution should be a tool available to the political level, but I'm not sure it should be the first option. It should be the last option," he said.

He added that he believed the Iranian regime to be a rational regime and said that in his estimate, Tehran would back down from its nuclear weapons ambition if faced with choosing between the program and its own survival.

"If they were to face a situation where they would have to judge the survival of the regime versus the [nuclear] project, I believe they would choose the survival of the regime," Dagan said.

Dagan rejected claims that his comments would give the Iranians a sense that they could act with impunity.

"If someone like me is speaking against it [attacking Iran], then the Iranians have to understand that Israel is probably considering seriously doing so. Then, in a way, it's helping those efforts, making it a reliable scenario," he said.

Meir Dagan will discuss the Iranian nuclear threat at the first annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on April 29. The full interview will be published on Friday.




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