Former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan, in his first U.S. television interview, says he believes that the Iran regime is rational and that now is not the time to attack Iran.
"The regime in Iran is a very rational one," the former top Israeli spymaster tells CBS' Lesley Stahl, according to excerpts of the interview released by 60 Minutes.
"No doubt, they are considering all the implications of their actions…They will have to pay dearly…and I think the Iranians at this point in time are…very careful on the project," says Dagan. "They are not running."
An excerpt of Dagan's interview with Stahl is scheduled to air on CBS Evening News Thursday. The full interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday.
The former Israeli intelligence chief's warnings against a premature attack on Iran reflect the widespread views of the White House and American military officials--but are sure to rile Israel's current political leaders.
The interview airs just three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama at the White House, to try to push the U.S. to commit to use force against Iran if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue," Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C. Monday night. "None of us can afford to wait much longer."
But President Obama has maintained his preference for a diplomatic resolution to the Iran issue.
"We have a window through which we can resolve this peacefully," Obama said at a White House news conference Tuesday. "The notion that we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or one month or two months is not borne out by the facts."
Dagan, who stepped down as Mossad chief just over a year ago, told Stahl he has confidence that Obama will strike Iran if diplomacy and sanctions are ultimately deemed to fail.
"And [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.," Dagan said. "If I prefer that someone will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it."
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