'Iran strike talk legitimate, airing details is not'

Former Mossad chief Yatom concerned by former senior security officials' statements over strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities.

August 5, 2012 10:24
2 minute read.
Interior of Bushehr nuclear plant

Interior of Bushehr nuclear plant 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)

Public detailed discussion by former senior security officials over a strike on Iran harms state security, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said Sunday morning in an interview with Army Radio.

Yatom expressed concern about statements released by former security officials recently, saying, "It is legitimate to discuss whether or not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, but going into detail, harms state security."

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His comments came a day after former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told Channel 2 that Israel should not, and likely will not, act against Tehran's nuclear program without the consent of the Unites States.

“It would not be wise for Israel to operate on its own, and I believe it won’t,” Halevy said. “I didn’t say [Israel] won’t act alone, but I think it won’t do something that is against American interests.”

A further problem, he explained, is that there is no telling how far back a military strike will set the program.

Within 10 years of Israel’s attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981, Saddam Hussein rebooted the program in triplicate, he said. If there were a guarantee of stopping Tehran’s nuclear effort altogether, a military strike would be more attractive.

While emphasizing that he was “convinced we must do everything to prevent Iran from the ability or desire to develop such a weapon,” Halevy also said that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran would not be existential. “It is a serious threat, perhaps the most serious that we’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s not existential.”

Halevy expanded on the controversial comments he made to The New York Times on Wednesday, in which he said, “If I were an Iranian, I would be very scared of the next 12 weeks.”

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The Times reported that some American officials believe Israel might attack Iran this year.

The coming weeks, he explained, will be crucial for Iran on several important fronts given the deterioration in Syria, the impasse in nuclear negotiations and the increasing bite of US and European Union sanctions.

Should negotiations remain frozen, he said, they will be accepted as a failure, leaving Israel few options but to attack its nuclear facilities.

“I don’t think they have anything but the next few weeks to act,” he said. But a number of hopeful signs coming from Iran provide reason to hope that Israel would not have to act, he said. “We may not attack because they may fold,” Halevy said, citing rumors that Tehran was preparing to change its delegation to the nuclear talks, and recent public statements that its international position had entered a “sensitive” time.

On Friday, Gen. Muhammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp, posted a message on the Guard’s website saying, “We have reached a very sensitive and fateful stage.”

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