The head of Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad, has said Iran getting a nuclear weapon is not an “existential threat” to the Jewish state, according to ambassadors.
Addressing a secret meeting of Israeli ambassadors in Jerusalem on Thursday, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo said that that Israel’s existence is not inevitably endangered by Iran acquiring an atomic weapon, even as Israel has tried to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program, reports the Washington Times.
“What is the significance of the term ‘existential?’” Pardo was quoted as saying by several ambassadors. “If you said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an ‘existential’ threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop. That’s not the situation. The term is used too freely.”
Pardo in no way can be considered a “dove,” or member of the peace wing of Israeli politics. It is widely believed he orchestrated the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, reports Haaretz.com. The hit, conducted last August, is the fourth incident to have taken a nuclear scientist out so far.
It is understood that Pardo favors a covert approach to destabilizing Iran’s nuclear program, whose public goals are peaceful but many think will ultimately result in the Islamic Republic developing its own nuclear weapons.
Pardo is also not the only Mossad chief to downplay the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. His predecessor, Meir Dagan, and former armed forces chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as many current Israeli security officials, have made similar statements.
The thinking goes that Iran would not launch a nuclear assault if attacked, because it knows Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons that would wipe out her largest cities and most important holy sites.
Zeevi Farkash, Israel’s former military intelligence chief, has said that Iran’s main drive for acquiring atomic weapons is not for use against Israel but as a deterrent against U.S. intervention, in much the same way that nuclear-armed North Korea feels secure against a U.S. attack.
Other Israeli leaders, such as PM Benjamin Netanyahu, argue that Iran is run by “mystics” and is not a rational state. They also caution about the possibility of Iranian nukes falling into other hands, such as terrorists or Hezbollah.