Monday, May 9, 2011

Former Mossad chief: Israel air strike on Iran 'stupidest thing I have ever heard'

In first public appearance since leaving post as Mossad chief, Meir Dagan warns of regional war if Iran is attacked; says fall of Assad regime would benefit Israel.

May 7, 2011

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan referred to the possibility a future Israeli Air Force attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as "the stupidest thing I have ever heard" during a conference held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Friday.

Dagan's presentation during a senior faculty conference was his first public appearance since leaving his former role as chief of the Mossad at the end of September 2010.

Dagan said that Iran has a clandestine nuclear infrastructure which functions alongside its legitimate, civil infrastructure. It is the legitimate infrastructure, he said, that is under international supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Any strike on this legitimate infrastructure would be "patently illegal under international law," according to Dagan.

Dagan emphasized that attacking Iran would be different than Israel's successful air strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Iran has scattered its nuclear facilities in different places around the country, he said, which would make it difficult for Israel to launch an effective attack.

According to Dagan, there is proof that Iran has the capability to divert its nuclear activities from place to place in order to take them out of the watchful eye of international supervision and intelligence agencies. No one in Iran would have any problems in building a centrifuge system in a school basement if they wished to, he said.

The IAF's abilities are not in doubt, Dagan emphasized, but the doubts relate to the possibilities of completing the mission and reaching all targets.

When asked about what would happen in the aftermath of an Israeli attack Dagan said that: "It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end."

The Iranians have the capability to fire rockets at Israel for a period of months, and Hizbollah could fire tens of thousands of grad rockets and hundreds of long-range missiles, he said.

At the same time, Tehran can activate Hamas, and there is also a danger that Syria will join the war, Dagan added.

The former Mossad chief expressed disagreement with the opinions of pundits regarding the uprisings across the Middle East since the beginning of 2011 saying that "there is no tsunami of change in the Middle East." He added that events "historical schisms within Arab society."

What sparked the Egyptian people to mass protest on the street was not an "internet revolution," especially considering the fact that most Egyptians do not have computers. In Eygpt, there was no revolution, but regime change, according to Dagan, and he is convinced that there is no chance that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain power because of fears that their taking power will damage the Egyptian economy, particularly income from tourism and U.S. aid.

It will be better for Israel if Syrian President Bashar Assad is removed from power because this will stop help to Hizbollah, and weaken Iranian influence, Dagan said in regards to the situation in Syria. It will also strengthen the Sunni camp in Syria and in the Arab world in general, and these things will be good for Israel strategically, he added.

Dagan believes that Assad will fight to the end. "He has no alternative. It's victory or death," Dagan stated.


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