JERUSALEM - A former Israeli spy master credited with delaying Irans nuclear program for years through sabotage and assassination says that an air attack on Irans nuclear facilities would be "a dumb idea."
Meir Dagan, who retired in January after eight years as head of the Mossad intelligence agency, told a symposium on regional strategy at Hebrew University that the solution to Iran's nuclear threat rests with the international community.
"An airstrike on the nuclear facilities is a dumb idea," he said over the weekend. "Whoever attacks Iran must understand that he may start a regional war in which missiles would be fired from Iran and from Hezbollah in Lebanon. War is one of those things which we know how it starts but not how it ends."
Iran has the capability of firing two or three missiles a day at Israel for months, he said.
Hezbollah, which Israel and the United States list as a terrorist organization, has hundreds of missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv as well as tens of thousands of shorter-range rockets that could strike northern Israel. He warned that Syria and the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza might join in any war with their own missiles and rockets.
"It is important to remember, that war is only one option among many alternatives," Mr. Dagan said in his first public appearance since retiring.
Instead of airstrikes, he urged continuation of the disruptive tactics that have been employed surreptitiously in recent years.
"What is being done to Iran as reported in the media is working," he said.
He added that Iran is riven by "endless power struggles" among various groupings.
During Mr. Dagans reign at the Mossad, a computer worm known as Stuxnet infected computers at Iranian nuclear sites, seriously damaging the uranium enrichment process.
In addition, several Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, and faulty equipment for the nuclear program was sold to Iran through front companies abroad.
As for the "Arab Spring," the former spy chief said he regards it not as "a tsunami of change" but merely a change in leadership.
The same elite will continue to rule in Egypt, he said, predicting little chance of the shadowy Muslim Brotherhood obtaining power.
In a surprising aside, he said it was not an Internet revolution that brought the masses into the streets because most poor Arabs do not have computers.
What brought Egyptians out, he said, was former President Hosni Mubaraks wife, Susan. Her persistent promotion of her son, Gamal, as successor to her husband aroused widespread outrage.
Mr. Dagan predicted no major change in Egypts relations with Israel, despite tougher rhetoric now heard from Cairo. Any worsening in relations would harm Cairos economic and political interests, and the Egyptian elite is well aware of that, he said.
As for Syria, he said the overthrow of President Bashar Assad would be good for Israel because of Mr. Assad's links with Hezbollah and Iran.
However, he added, Mr. Assad and his Alawite regime might yet survive.
"It's either winning or dying, and they understand that," he said.
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