'Strike fallout can never be as bad as nuclear Iran'

Former Mossad head Danny Yatom says Israel can't afford to wonder if Tehran "will go crazy and throw a bomb on us."

By
November 23, 2011 22:23
2 minute read.
Iranian surface to surface missile [file]

Iran missile launch 521. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)

The outcome of a strike on Iran's nuclear sites, no matter how destructive, can never be as bad for Israel as an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said on Wednesday at a security conference at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic studies.

Yatom took up a position that is diametrically opposed to that of another former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, who sparked significant controversy by stating earlier this year that an attack on Iran would be a foolish move that would lead to a war with an unknown outcome.

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“There is a big argument over whether to attack Iran or not,” Yatom said. “The argument is legitimate. Some say Israel will pay a high price, no matter who does the attacking.”

“As difficult a price it may be, and even if those predicting apocalyptic results are correct – and I don’t think they are – this is still not as bad as the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb,” he argued.

Israel can’t afford to find itself in the position of having “to wake up every morning and ask, ‘Will they go crazy and throw a bomb on us or not?’” Yatom said, adding that “the damage that an Iranian nuclear bomb can cause is so great.”

It was impossible to stake the nation’s security on predictions by those who claim a nuclear Iran can be deterred, and that the Iranian regime would not launch a nuclear attack, he said.

Yatom acknowledged that rocket attacks would likely ensue from Lebanon and Gaza following a strike, but added that Israel’s response would be “so painful and crushing that rockets will come to an end.”

“Civilian facilities and infrastructures in Lebanon and Gaza will be hit. Innocent civilians could be hurt. But the barrage of rockets will no longer be falling over our heads,” he added.

The world did not have much time left to act on Iran, the former Mossad head warned, adding that “there is an evaluation that they crossed the red line. They have the knowledge to make the bomb. All that is needed now is the decision to do it... The world has a year, probably less.”

He also doubted that sanctions would be effective.

Addressing the option of targeting Iran with covert operations, Yatom said that whether or not Israel was linked to such acts, they “won’t stop Iran. They either will have the bomb or not. I think force will have to be used. I don’t think Israel should lead. This is a world problem... [But] should the world stand on the sidelines, Israel will be fully entitled to use its natural right to self-defense.”


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