The Spymaster: Meir Dagan on Iran's threat

In a rare interview, ex-chief of Mossad Meir Dagan speaks out against a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities anytime soon.

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Stahl: If they're that rational as you suggest and that logical, then why can't you, Israel, and the world live with a nuclear Iran?

Dagan: In the Israeli case, they have said they want to destroy Israel.

He says one sign of Iran's logical thinking is how they cunningly stall through diplomacy.

Dagan: I think that the Iranians are masters at negotiation. They invented of what I call the "bazaar culture" of how we are negotiating.

Stahl: So if there are negotiations, how concerned would you be that the Europeans, for example, would say, "Ah. We're talking. Let's weaken the sanctions"?

Dagan: I have to admit that's a concern. Yes.

Stahl: People are going to want to lessen the tension so that the oil prices will go back down.

Dagan: Do you think that Iran armed with a nuclear capability is going to create stability in the region? They have an interest, a basic interest to raise the prices of oil, cause this is the most important source of income for Iran. If Iran will be armed with a nuclear capability, their ability to create instability in the region, and by this indirectly to increase the price of oil, that'd be much worse than it is now.

Dagan says the best solution is to push the mullahs out by supporting Iranian students and minorities. According to a leaked State Department cable, he told his American counterparts as early as 2007, more should be done to foment regime change.

Dagan: It's our duty to help anyone who likes to present an open opposition against their regime in Iran.

Stahl: Has Israel done anything to encourage, help, support the youth opposition groups that have been marching against the regime?

Dagan: Let's ignore the question.

Dagan argues that a preemptive Israeli strike this year would be reckless and irresponsible. The Obama administration agrees that there's time to wait.

[Obama: Already there's too much loose talk of war.]

Dagan: I heard very carefully what President Obama said. And he said openly that the military option is on the table, and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state.

Stahl: So let me try to sum up what I think you're now saying. And you're saying, "Why should we do it? If we wait and they get the bomb, the Americans will do it."

Dagan: The issue of Iran armed with a nuclear capability is not an Israeli problem; it's an international problem.

Stahl: So wait and let us do it.

Dagan: If I prefer that somebody will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it.

In his memoir, former Vice President Dick Cheney says that in 2007 Dagan came to Washington with intel to make the case for bombing the Syrian nuclear reactor that Israel later took out in a surprise attack. Syria did not retaliate. This time, Dagan thinks it'll be different. He worries about a rain of missiles which some estimate could be as many as 50,000.