Barak blasts Dagan for statements regarding Iran

Responding to ex-Mossad head's comment that "attack on Iran’s nuclear reactors would be foolish," defense minister says sensitive matters should not be expressed openly.

Ehud Barak 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Ehud Barak 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak harshly criticized former Mossad chief Meir Dagan on Sunday for his comments over the weekend that an air strike against Iran would be a “foolish idea.”
Dagan made the comments in a lecture to senior faculty at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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He said that the effectiveness of an attack against Iran would be questionable but that it was almost certain that such a strike would lead to a regional war involving missile attacks from Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly Syria.
“Meir Dagan has done a lot for the security of the state and completed his term outstandingly, leaving a lasting mark on what happens in the Middle East,” Barak said during a tour of the border with the Gaza Strip together with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo.
“I am not sure, however, that his remark, as reported in the media, is correct and I am certain that if we are to deal with these matters responsibly, then it is not right to share these thoughts – even if they are legitimate – with the public,” Barak added.
Dagan’s comments on Friday – his first time speaking publicly since retiring earlier this year – were widely interpreted as a possible attempt to undermine potential Israeli plans to take military action against Iran. He has said in the past that Israel needs to continue investing in covert action and that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon until 2015.
Barak said that all of the country’s security and defense organizations – the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – were tasked with building up capabilities and submitting recommendations to political leaders, who are charged with making the final decision.
“In the end, these are decisions that belong to the political echelon,” he said.
Barak said that 63 years after its establishment, the state’s existence depended on the IDF and continued investment in the military.
“On the one hand, after 63 years, Israel is still the strongest country in the Middle East, but it is clear that we have yet to reach the stage when we can rest,” Barak said.
“The entire region is undergoing a historic and unprecedented upheaval, which we are still unsure of how it will end, and our security is in the hands of the IDF.”