|Tougher sanctions will stop Iran, says former Mossad chief
In an interview with Wall Street Journal, Meir Dagan reiterates his opposition to an Israeli military strike on Iran, says it is in Iran’s best interest to change its policy • Dagan, together with other former officials from around the world, suggests „truly isolating” the Iranian regime.
Photo credit: AP
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan says tougher sanctions will stop Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Photo credit: AP
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has added more statements to an already sizable list of public remarks opposing an Israeli attack on Iran. In an opinion piece titled „Total Sanctions Might Stop Iran” — published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday — Dagan wrote that it was still possible to avoid a military showdown with Iran, but only if „like-minded nations act immediately to deliver a potentially decisive economic blow to the regime.”
Dagan co-authored the article together with former German intelligence chief August Hanning, former CIA chief James Woolsey, former British Chief of the Defense Staff Charles Guthrie, former U.S. Ambassador to the EU Kristen Silverberg and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Mark Wallace.
The authors based their views on the belief that it was in Iran’s interest to change its direction and abandon the military aspects of its nuclear program. They cited what they describe as empirical evidence from the past few months proving sanctions imposed by the international community were having a significant effect on Iran.
The former officials insisted that the time had come to „fully isolate the regime.” They suggested four courses of action. The first was to cut Iran off entirely from the international banking system. Though existing sanctions have made some headway in this direction, the article’s authors urge a more complete disengagement that would sever all financial options.
The second suggestion was to require companies to reveal any business they conduct with Iran. „The moment companies are required to disclose their irresponsible business activities in Iran is the moment they end such business for risk of reputational harm,” they wrote.
The third suggestion was to block Iranian access to international commercial transport and end merchant ship docking at Iranian ports. Ships would be required to prove that they had not docked in Iran in order to be permitted to dock anywhere else. This would potentially be a crippling blow to Iran’s economy, which relies heavily on the shipping of crude oil.
The final suggestion was to prevent insurance companies dealing with Iran from doing business in the U.S. and EU. „There are inherent risks associated with doing business in Iran, and if institutions are forced to assume the full ramifications of those risks, the allure of doing business in Iran will diminish significantly,” they wrote.
In the opinion piece, Dagan and his coauthors say they can’t be sure that tougher sanctions will cause Iran to change its policies, but „it is common sense that before undertaking military action against a country, we should first try to dissuade it from its current course by applying decisive economic pressure.”
Dagan has been under attack by Israeli politicians in recent months for public remarks he made against the government’s way of handling the Iranian crisis. In March, government officials denounced Dagan after he told American television audiences in an interview that the Iranian regime was rational. Speaking to CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Dagan said that perhaps the leadership of the Islamic republic is not rational in the way we understand the concept, but they are rational nonetheless.
“The Iranian regime is maybe not exactly rational, based on what I call Western thinking, but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions,” Dagan told CBS. “I think the Iranians at this point in time are … very careful on the [nuclear] project.”
The former Israeli intelligence chief — who took over the Mossad in 2002 and retired in early 2011 — said if a military strike was necessary he would “prefer” that the U.S. carry it out rather than Israel.
Among alternative actions Dagan has suggested, he supports Iranian opposition groups working for regime change. “An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way to do it,” he said.
In a March summit between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, Netanyahu told the local media, “We won’t accept a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons, because we face an existential threat” and that a strike on Iran “is not a matter of days or weeks, but it’s also not a matter of years.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has also been outspoken in his support for keeping the military option against Iran on the table. On May 2, Barak wrote on his Facebook page that Israel still sees a military offensive as one of the „options on the table.”
On Wednesday, the world received sobering news of Iran’s intentions when former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem, recalled a meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he expressed his intention to destroy Israel.
„In a private discussion we held in Tehran in October of 2000, Ali Khamenei told me that Israel must be burned to the ground and made to disappear from the face of the Earth,” Aznar told the audience.
When Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. and current head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, asked him „When Khamenei was talking about wiping Israel off the map, was he referring to a gradual historical process involving the collapse of the Zionist state, or rather its physical-military termination?” Aznar replied, „he meant physical termination through military force.”