`Attack on Iran could trigger war in Middle East`

Former Israeli defence chief Lt-Gen Amnon Lipkin-Shahak said that a premature attack on Tehran could lead Middle East into a war.

Last Updated: Feb 02, 2012, 13:34 PM IST

Jerusalem: Former Israeli defence chief Lt-Gen Amnon Lipkin-Shahak has warned against a strike on Iran, insisting that almost the entire senior hierarchy of Israel`s military and security establishment is worried about a premature attack on Tehran over fears that it could lead the Middle East into a war.

Lt-Gen Shahak, who is close to Defence Minister Ehud Barak, warned that an assault may lead to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad benefiting from popular anger against foreign aggression, The Independent reports.

"It is quite clear that much if not all of the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] leadership do not support military action at this point," he said.

The risks of military action underlined by the former commander show the apparent divisions within the establishment over the best way to combat Iran`s nuclear programme.

Lt-Gen Shahak stressed he had no idea what decision the security cabinet would reach. He said the current Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt-Gen Benny Gantz, and Mr Dagan`s successor at Mossad, Tamir Pardo, would offer advice.

"We have to remember that the CGS and the head of Mossad are there to serve the State of Israel, they are not party political. They will no doubt offer judgement and advice on what is best for Israel. In the past the advice of the head of the IDF and the head of Mossad had led to military action being stopped," he said.

Sanctions on Iran imposed by the EU and the US, including an oil embargo, were stronger than many people had expected, said Lt-Gen Lipkin-Shahak.

"They are already having some impact on the Iranians on the street, they are worried. They may feel that it is the actions of the [Iranian] government, which has created this situation. So one would think it would be worth seeing what impact the sanctions have before taking the next step," Lt-Gen Shahak added.

It was reported earlier in the day that an elite unit of Israeli commandos called the ‘Depth Corps’ had been secretly created to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

Mossad hit squads had already carried out assassinations on key Iranian scientists, and now, the Depth Corps has been sent deep inside Iran to prepare an all-out strike against its nuclear programme.

Insisting that Israel fears Ahmadinejad could order the facilities to be buried hundreds of feet underground out of reach of air strikes, a senior source in Tel Aviv warned: “We will reach the point where Iran gets delivery systems to fire weapons of mass destruction. The time to act is now.”

ANI