Ex-Israeli spy chief: Bombing Iran a stupid idea

60 Dagan preview
60 Dagan preview

(CBS News) One man know more about Iran's nuclear program than just about anyone, because it was his job to stop it as the former head of Israel's spy agency, Mossad.

In an upcoming segment for "60 Minutes", Lesley Stahl interviews Meir Dagan, confronting him for saying that bombing Iran now is "the stupidest idea" he'd ever heard.

Dagan: An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it.

Stahl: The dispute seems to come down, though, to whether you are at the end of everything that you can try, or whether you have a lot of time left to try other things, which seems to be your position.

Dagan: I never said it's a lot of time.

Stahl: Well, more time.

Dagan: More time.

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For nearly a decade, buying more time was his job. The Iranians say Dagan dispatched assassins, faulty equipment and computer viruses to sabotage the nuclear program. All the while, he was pouring over the most secret dossiers about the Iranian regime, gaining insights and a surprising appreciation.

Dagan: The regime in Iran is a very rational regime.

Stahl: Do you think Ahmadinejad is rational?

Dagan: The answer is yes. Not exactly our rational, but I think that he is rational.

Stahl: Do you think they're rational enough that they are capable of backing down from this?

Dagan: No doubt that the Iranian regime is maybe not exactly rational based on what I call Western thinking, but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions.

Dagan also told Stahl he thinks it's a mistake generally to make this situation an Israeli-Iranian issue. It should be an international issue. Somehow the Saudis should be encouraged to speak up and pressure the United States. And what he would really like to happen is that Israel sits back, and the Americans do it for the Israelis. It would then be internationalized. He knows that Israel will be attacked whoever does it, but they'll be attacked less and what he's most worried about is the retaliation.

The rest of Lesley Stahl's interview with Meir Dagan will air on "60 Minutes," this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT, and 6 p.m. Central.