HERZLIYA, Israel – Israel should use force to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Meir Amit, a former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, said in an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press and WorldNetDaily.com.
The comments from Amit, one of the most respected figures in the Israeli intelligence establishment, are especially significant since until now he has refused to support an attack against Iran.
“I am in favor of using the power of force against Iran because if we let things go as they are we will find ourselves in a very dangerous situation,” Amit said. “We have good intelligence and we shall decide what is the right timing for any attack.”
Asked about media speculation and statements from officials and former officials that the best window of opportunity for Israel to attack Iran is before President Bush leaves office in January, Amit responded that American politics should not be a consideration.
He also said Israel should not regard the pro-dialogue policies of presidential candidate Barack Obama in its decision on whether or when to attack Iran.
“I suggest we cannot take Obama as a point to influence our activities. We have to control our own activities and decide the right timing,” he said.
Pressed on the issue of media reports quoting anonymous Israeli and American officials speaking about the timing of an Israeli strike, Amit replied:
“When you decide to attack someone, you don’t let that person or country know anything about the timing in advance. You do it at the right moment without any initial warning or announcement.”
The former Mossad chief said he was not particularly concerned about Iranian threats of massive retaliation in the event of an Israeli strike.
“I am not impressed by Iran’s threats. We have to do what we think should be done and obviously plan for consequences. All my life I decided on the spot what to do according to the existing situation,” he said.
Amit served as Mossad director from 1963 to 1968, during which time he was credited with orchestrating some of the agency’s most notorious operations, such as running Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who penetrated top levels of the Syrian government, and hijacking an advance fighter plane from Iraq.
The subject of several books and movies, Amit now serves as chairman of Israel’s Center for Special Studies.
Amit says he is intimately familiar with the political structure of Iran, having gone on special missions to the country while Israel had a relationship with Iranian leaders.
He told WND in a well-circulated interview last year that he did not advocate an Israeli strike against Iran, but he suggested at the time that the Jewish state assassinate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Amit’s latest statements followed an ABC News report this week quoting a senior defense official in Washington as saying he believes Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of the year.
According to the official, two “red lines” would prompt an Israeli strike. The first trigger would be when Iran produces enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb, which U.S. and Israeli assessments predict could occur within one to two years. The second trigger, according to the official, would be Iran’s acquisition of an air defense system it is in the process of purchasing from Russia.
Last week, former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton stated that an Israeli attack against Iran could take place between the U.S. election in November and the presidential inauguration in January.
Bolton spoke in the aftermath of leaked media reports of a major Israeli military exercise over the Mediterranean involving 100 aircraft. The drill was widely seen as preparation for a possible bombing of Iran’s nuclear installations.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. His Quick Takes column appears weekly on page 2 of The Jewish Press.