Aerial strike on Iran's nuke sites 'dumb idea': Ex-Mossad chief

Aerial strike on Iran`s nuke sites `dumb idea`: Ex-Mossad chief Jerusalem: A possible aerial strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is a "dumb idea" that may prompt missile attacks on the Jewish state, Israeli spy agency Mossad's former chief Meir Dagan has warned.

"An aerial strike on the (Iranian) reactors is a dumb idea that has no benefit," Dagan said in his first comments after hanging boots in September during a forum discussion at Jerusalem's Hebrew University late on Saturday.

Though Israeli officials often say that "all options are on the table" in respect to Iranian nuclear programme, but Dagan said, "An aerial attack on Iranian nuclear reactors the most stupidest thing he has ever heard."

While Israel must not accept nuclear weapons in Iran's hands, he said, "those who strike in Iran must realise that they may prompt a regional war, where missiles will be fired by Iran and by Hezbollah from Lebanon as well."

"The Iranian problem must be shaped as an international problem, and efforts to delay Iran's nuclear programme should continue," said Dagan, who was dubbed as the superman of Israel.

Dagan said Iran has a clandestine nuclear infrastructure which functions alongside its legitimate, civil infrastructure.

"It is the legitimate infrastructure that is under international supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said, stressing that any strike on this legitimate infrastructure would be "patently illegal under international law".

He emphasised that attacking Iran would be different from Israel's successful air strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, the former Mossad chief said Tehran has scattered its nuclear facilities in different places around the country, which would make it difficult for Tel Aviv to launch an effective attack.

There is proof that Iran has the capability to divert its nuclear activities from place to place in order to take them out of the watchful eye of international supervision and intelligence agencies, he added.

No one in Iran would have any problems in building a centrifuge system in a school basement if they wished to, Dagan said, stressing that he did not doubt the Israel Air Force's abilities, but the doubts relate to the possibilities of completing the mission and reaching all targets.

When asked about what would happen in the aftermath of an Israeli attack, Dagan said, "It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end."

Israel has so far maintained that it is keeping all options on the table to foil Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The former spy chief's comments evoked mixed reactions with government ministers severely criticising him for discussing it with the broader public.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said while Dagan was a man of many merits who had contributed immeasurably to the security of Israel, he "should not have shared that opinion with the public at large".

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz agreed, saying he believed Dagan to have been an outstanding Mossad chief but he should have kept the remarks to himself.

However, two past Mossad chiefs, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Halevy, said Dagan has every right to express his opinion with regard to extraordinary matters such as a strike on Iran.

When it comes to fateful issues pertaining to security and the state, the head of the Mossad must say his piece after leaving the post, Yatom told Israel Radio.

Halevy echoed similar sentiments saying that an outgoing Mossad chief must grant the public what it is entitled to know, although he added that he might have phrased the declaration differently.

Dagan's remarks should have no bearing on the government's decisions to that regard, he added.