Ex-Mossad chief: Better to let U.S. handle Iran

(CBS News) The former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency is warning that it would be reckless for Israel to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear program and instead suggests it would be better to wait for the U.S. to step in.

Meir Dagan, who led Mossad for eight years, sat down with "60 Minutes'" Lesley Stahl to talk about the tension surrounding Iran's nuclear ambitions and what some see as a growing drumbeat for war against the Islamic republic.

The "60 Minutes" interview will be broadcast Sunday, March 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Iran was the focal point for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House this week, as President Barack Obama urged him to allow more time for sanctions and diplomacy to work. Netanyahu has repeatedly signaled his impatience with those efforts and has vowed that Israel would take necessary steps to defend itself.

Ex-Mossad chief: Iran rational; don't attack now

Dagan, however, favors the more patient approach, calling the Iranian regime "a very rational one" that is "considering all the implications of their actions."

Dagan also expressed confidence in the U.S. commitment to Israel's security.

"[President Obama] said openly that the military option is on the table and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the U.S," he said. "The issue of Iran armed with a nuclear capability is not an Israeli problem; it's an international problem." (Watch a preview of Dagan's "60 Minutes" interview at left.)

And with that in mind, Dagan said it would be better to let the U.S. lead any actions against Iran.

"If I prefer that someone will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it," he said.

Appearing on "CBS This Morning" Friday, Stahl said Dagan's biggest concern in any pre-emptive strike on Iran is retaliation on Israel.

"He feels that if Israel launches an attack, the bombardment [in response] will devastate the country," Stahl said. While Israel still would be a target even if the U.S. launched an attack, the response likely wouldn't be as bad. And Dagan has said that strikes couldn't completely destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, only delay their progress.

Watch Lesley Stahl discuss her interview with Meir Dagan in the video player above.

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