Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan on Sunday rejected as baseless recent criticism leveled against for making public pronouncements about the Iranian nuclear threat.

Speaking at a security conference at Tel Aviv University, Dagan said: "The heart of democracy is based upon debate of such issues."

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz last week took an apparent swipe at former defense establishment officials for public public comments on Iran, saying that "there is a lot of idle chatter on the issue." The comments were widely viewed as being directed at Dagan and Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin, who have publicly questioned Israel's current leadership for threatening an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities and suggested that such an attack would not be effective in seriously curbing Iran's nuclear program.

At the conference, Dagan expressed a certain level of support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's stance on Iran, saying that he agreed that the international community was being complacent in the face of the Iranian drive for nuclear capabilities. He added, however, that he could not rule out the possibility of an agreement in ongoing IAEA-Iran and P5+1-Iran negotiations.

"The military option must always be on the table with regards to Iran," Dagan said, "but it must also always be a last option."

Dagan also said that he believes Iran's influence is waning in the Middle Eastern region.

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