Defense & National Security

Former Mossad head says nuclear Iran is not an existential threat

Former Mossad head says nuclear Iran is not an existential threat

The former head of the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, the Israeli intelligence agency known as Mossad, says an Iranian nuclear capacity would not constitute an existential threat to the state of Israel.

“I don’t think that there is an existential threat to Israel. I don’t think that the existence of Israel is at stake. I don’t think that there is any power in the world, any capability in the world, which can bring about the demise of the state of Israel,” former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy said during a talk at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Oct 18.

“So how can we survive a nuclear capacity of Iran?” he asked. “First of all, we should do everything in our power that this does not come about, of course. But I don’t accept the premise that if tomorrow morning, the Iranians announce that they have a nuclear weapon, you begin the countdown to the end of Israel.”

“This will never be the case. Never,” he said.

Just as Israel survived its war of independence, in which it lost 6,000 people out of a population of 600,000 Jews living in Palestine at the time, it will survive all future threats for at least the next 10,000 years, he said.

“I also would also like to convince the Iranians that from their point of view, the situation of their getting a nuclear capacity is a threat to them,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an address at the United Nations General Assembly in September in which he said that Iran was dangerously close to having the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.

In contrast with Halevy’s Oct. 18 comments, Netanyahu said that mutually assured destruction presented an incentive for nuclear war, not a deterrent, to the theologically driven Iranian leaders.

At the Wilson Center, Halevy said, “I think there is a fallacy in using the sense of an existential threat to Israel because it means to say that the Iranians have it in their capacity to destroy Israel if they have a nuclear capability.”

He characterized the current state of affairs between Israel and Iran as a war, saying, “I think it is wrong for two warring sides to having one side telling the other side, ‘You know, there could be a situation in which you could actually kill me.’ That’s not the way to run a war and not the way to run a strategic program at all,” he said.

“In other words, we as Israelis or we as the world are telling the Iranians, ‘If you get the bomb, you will have the capacity to destroy Israel. You will be in reach of your aim to destroy Israel.’”

But Israel has numerous means to deal with any threat from a nuclear Iran, he said.

“I cannot go into specifics this morning because if I did this I would not be able to go back to Israel, but I can assure you we’ve been in very, very dire straits and situations many, many times in our history, and we will overcome,” he said.

The best way, and the way that has worked in the past, is through a combination of dialogue and demonstrations of strength, he said.

“You have to talk to people. You have to dialogue with them. Speak to their minds, speak to their thoughts, speak to their feelings and so forth, and not just hammer them on the head,” he said. “You should hammer them on the head as well, at the same time, with one hand use the hammer, and the other hand, and the other hand, use it in the event that you can outstretch the hand.”

 

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