Former Israeli Spy Chief: Attacking Iran Would Cause International Sanctions Regime To Crumble

The former head of Israel’s vaunted Mossad spy agency told the Atlantic magazine that an attack on Iran would not spur the Iranian people to rise up against the regime and could cause the international sanctions regime imposed against Iran to crumble.

In the interview, Meir Dagan said that, contrary the contention made by of many Iran hawks, should Israel attack Iran, the population may well rally behind the regime. He went on to say, in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, that the U.S.-led international sanctions regimen imposed on Iran would crumble in the face of an attack, making pursuit of a nuclear weapon easier for the Islamic Republic. Goldberg writes:

Some senior Israeli officials have argued to me that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities might actually trigger the eventual downfall of the regime. Dagan predicts the opposite: “Judging by the war Iran fought against Iraq, even people who supported the Shah, even the Communists, joined hands with (Ayatollah) Khomeini to fight Saddam,” he said, adding, “In case of an attack, political pressure on the regime will disappear. If Israel will attack, there is no doubt in my mind that this will also provide them with the justification to go ahead and move quickly to nuclear weapons.” He also predicted that the sanctions program engineered principally by President Obama may collapse as a result of an Israeli strike, which would make it easier for Iran to obtain the material necessary for it to cross the nuclear threshold.

Dagan’s previously said that an attack could “ignite… a regional war” and “could accelerate the procurement of the bomb” by Iran because it would “provide them with the legitimacy to achieve nuclear capabilities for military purposes.” That puts him in line with the former head of Israel’s internal security service, and the former head of Israel’s military intelligence service. Perhaps taking their cues from predecessors, a majority of Israel’s current security chiefs reportedly oppose an attack on Iran.

A potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime. U.S.U.N. and Israeli intelligence estimates give the West time to pursue a dual-track approach of pressure and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. Questions about the efficacy and potential consequences of a strike have led U.S. officials to declare that diplomacy is the “best and most permanent way” to resolve the crisis.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.