Former Israeli Spy Chief: ‘I Don’t Think There Is An Existential Threat’ To Israel

Right-wing pundits and politicians are loudly declaring that diplomatic efforts to stop Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program have failed and the time has come for Obama to either participate in a military attack against Iran or stand back while Israel launches airstrikes. The argument increasingly hinges on a “closing window of opportunity” which, according to various reports, limit the Israelis to striking this spring or living with a nuclear weapons armed Iran.

While neither the IAEA nor U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear weapon, the IAEA has expressed concern about military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program. But right-wing hawks — from GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney to Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens — are repeating talking points that the Israelis are on the verge of unilaterally attacking in the face of an “existential threat” from Tehran.

Today, former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan slammed Netanyahu’s government for representing fringe political positions, adding that Israel does not face an existential threat. The AP reports:

Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad spy agency said he does not believe Israel faces an existential threat from Iran, a view that contrasts with Israel’s prime minister and other leaders. […]

At the launch of an electoral reform movement he chairs, he observed, “I don’t think there is an existential threat.” He did not specifically mention Iran, but the use of the phrase “existential threat” in Israel generally refers to Iran.

Dagan is joined by the current Israeli intelligence chief Tamir Pardo who reportedly told a gathering of Israeli ambassadors in December that Iran doesn’t pose an “existential threat” and “the term existential threat is used too freely.”

Last week, retired Israeli Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak told The Independent that the Israeli military’s leadership does not support a strike on Iran and the Associated Press reported that Israel’s new air force chief, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, is “less enthusiastic about a possible attack on Iran” than his predecessor.

There is no doubt that Iran’s nuclear program, if weaponized, is incredibly worrying and constitutes a threat to nuclear non-proliferation efforts as well as Israel’s security. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said recently that Iran can be dissuaded from nuclear weapons through diplomacy and economic sanctions.