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Terrorism & Security

Former Israeli spy chief talks down strike on Iran nuclear sites as 'stupidest idea'

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan gave a lengthy interview to CBS's 60 Minutes just days after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu came to Washington to drum up support for an Iran nuclear strike.

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Mr. Obama said “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,” Dagan said. (The Christian Science Monitor this week looked at why Netanyahu does not have the same trust in Obama’s strategy.)

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Dagan also broke ranks with Netanyahu on Iran’s calculations. The prime minister has often painted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the rest of the Iranian leadership as unpredictable, irrational actors. But in his CBS interview, Dagan said the Iranian regime is “a very rational regime. … maybe not exactly rational based on what I call Western thinking, but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions.”

Iran’s state-run PressTV highlighted this comment, headlining its story about the interview “Dagan says Israel must not attack ‘rational’ Iran.

The Monitor reports that Ayatollah Khamenei gave “unprecedented” praise to a US leader this week, applauding a speech by Obama earlier this week in which he tried to scale back discussion about a strike on Iran and criticized Republicans for “bluster” and “big talk.”

“This talk is good talk and shows an exit from illusion,” Ayatollah Khamenei told Iran’s Assembly of Experts, a senior clerical body, according to a translation by Agence France-Presse. “But the US president continued saying that he wants to make the Iranian people kneel through sanctions, this part of this speech shows the continuation of illusion in this issue." 

The Monitor also reported yesterday that according to one survey conducted in February, nearly two-thirds of Israeli Jews oppose a strike without US assistance. A second survey showed that 58 percent opposed a unilateral attack. The opposition, according to the Monitor, is not so much about whether it is right to do so, but whether the attempt would be successful – and the consequences if it isn’t.

Reuters reports that during his US visit, Netanyahu requested “advanced ‘bunker-buster’ bombs and refueling planes” that would increase Israel’s ability to hit Iran’s underground nuclear site and its chances of success. No agreement has so far been made in response to the request.

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