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Israel's Dagan vs. Iran's Ahmadinejad

Meir Dagan: 'Israel Air Force Is Capable Of Knocking Out Iran's Nuclear Weapons Sites But The Cost May Be Intolerable'

'According To Defense Minister Barak's Assessment, Israel Should Attack Iran Immediately'

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 'World Will Soon Witness Great Iranian Nuclear Achievements...We Will Never Give Up Our Nuclear Enrichment Program'

Meir Dagan

 The Israeli-Iranian war of words continues in more ways than one. In Israel, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan again crossed swords with Defense Minister Ehud Barak over attacking Iran. Meanwhile in Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised major nuclear achievements in the coming days while vowing that Iran would never give up its uranium enrichment project ... IDF intelligence believes that Iran has enriched enough low grade uranium to produce four A-bombs.

 'I have full confidence the Israel Air Force can knock out Iran's nuclear weapons facilities but the cost to Israel may be intolerable'. That is the assessment of former Mossad director Meir Dagan, who resigned a year ago and promptly called on the Israeli government not to launch a unilateral strike on Iranian nuclear targets. Interviewed on Channel 2 TV, Dagan contended that the U.S. and the EU were fully aware of Iran's grand design to exert control over the Gulf and 60% of the world's oil reserves. Therefore the West would not acquiesce in the Iranians getting their hands on A-bombs to implement their goal.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Although Dagan has not been in the Israeli intelligence loop since his retirement, he was confident there was still time to give the sanctions a chance. But what of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's latest estimate that Iran might get a nuclear weapon 'within twelve months or less'? In fact, on retiring Dagan had estimated the Iranians would not acquire an A-bomb until 2015. Nonetheless, Dagan argued that Israel should not adopt the role of 'camp leader' against Iran - that should be left to the U.S. In his view, when you start a war you don't know how it will end and Israel could wind up in the midst of a regional conflagration. (On this score, IDF intelligence chief Gen. Aviv Kochavi has recently disclosed that Israel is now surrounded by 200,000 rockets and missiles). Dagan's bottom line - the option of a unilateral strike should be Israel's last option and launched only after all other avenues had failed.

Apparently referring to Dagan's position, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said: 'Those who say wait until later may then find that it is too late to act'. (This recalls a statement by U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who once referred to Iran's nuclear weapons development by saying: 'We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud!') Barak and IDF Intelligence Branch have warned that Iran is trying to gain 'immunity' by secretly developing nuclear weapons believing that no one would then dare to take them on.

The Iranian Missile Range

Dagan said: 'I don't agree with Barak that a military strike is now the preferred option because his conclusion is that Israel should attack immediately. I say there is still time to decide at a later date. Our red lines are at different places'. The former Mossad chief, an IDF combat general also renowned for his audacity, expressed total confidence in the Israel Air Force saying it would carry out the mission successfully whenever the order might be given. When asked whether it was indeed Israeli threats to strike Iran that had finally startled the U.S. and EU into adopting stiffer sanctions, Dagan did not believe this was the case. The international community has vital interests in the Gulf and would have acted anyway. For his part, Dagan declared that he had never divulged any secret Israeli information but felt it essential that Israel conduct a public debate over what to do about the Iranian nuclear threat.

Meanwhile in Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was promising some dramatic developments to tens of thousands of Iranians who celebrated the 33rd anniversary of the Khomeini revolution. He declared: 'The world will witness some major nuclear achievements by Iran in the coming days'. Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran would never give up its uranium enrichment program. (This is the key element in producing nuclear weapons because it produces the fissile material to create the nuclear chain reaction and which is considered to be the most complex process in building an A-bomb. By already producing 20% enriched uranium, Iran has proven it has the scientific capability to upgrade to 90% that is required to produced nuclear weapons, the decision is solely political).

The guest of honor at the rally was none other than the Palestinian Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniya who pledged that Hamas would never recognize Israel. He is the new found partner of Palestinian West Bank President Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called moderate, who also refuses to recognize the Jewish state.

David Essing

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