Dagan backpedals: Iran may have nukes before 2015

Outgoing Mossad chief tells Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: Iranian nuclear threat, global jihad are major challenges to Israel.

meir dagan 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
meir dagan 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan addressed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the last time on Monday, and modified his previous statement that Iran will not have nuclear weapons until the middle of the decade.
He explained that the timeline estimates do “not change the fact that Iran is working toward nuclear military capabilities and in certain scenarios can shorten the time” it takes to attain nuclear weapons.
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Two weeks ago, Dagan said that Teheran would not have nuclear capabilities before the middle of the decade, and that Israel should only act militarily against Iran if it felt real, present and immediate danger, as if a dagger were resting on its throat.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu distanced himself from Dagan’s relatively sanguine mid-decade prognosis, saying publicly last week that these were only “intelligence estimates.”
He apparently was concerned that if the world thought the Iranians were still a few years away from the bomb, it would ease up the pressure on the Islamic Republic.
Dagan, in the Knesset on Monday, said, “It is important for us to learn the lesson of North Korea, which wasn’t taken care of properly and didn’t get attention from the international community.”
The former Mossad head also discussed other “challenges” that Israel may face in the future, including the possibility of a Palestinian state and the war against terror.
Dagan mentioned Shi’ite terrorism in the north, specifically Hizbullah, which he called a significant threat due to its stockpiles of weapons and its ability to attack densely populated areas inside Israel.
He also said that Israel has to deal with the threats of global jihad.
Israel “will need to deal with these challenges, and in my estimation it will do so successfully,” he said.
After Dagan spoke, MK Avi Dichter (Kadima), former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told him: “Many people owe their lives to the organization you lead.
Maybe some people owe their deaths to you. I’m happy for the former and not sorry for the latter.”
MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, opposition head Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin thanked Dagan for his contribution to the nation’s security.