Daily Israel Report

Mossad Chief: Nuclear Iran Not an Existential Threat

Mossad chief Tamir Pardo says a nuclear armed Iran doesn't mean Israel has to "close up and go home."
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/29/2011, 6:18 PM

Tamir Pardo
Tamir Pardo
Flash 90

Mossad chief Tamir Pardo doesn't believe a nuclear armed Iran would mean the destruction on Israel.

Pardo reportedly told a forum of Israeli diplomats that while Israel continues in its efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear program he does not believe an Iranian atomic bomb poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.

"Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely. But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That is not the situation. The term existential is used too freely," Pardo reportedly said.

According to the diplomats Padro declined to discuss a potential Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, which continues to be hotly debated in Israel's halls of power.

Pardo's predecessor, Meir Dagan, told reporters that military action should only be taken by Israel "when a knife is at its throat and begins to cut into the flesh."

Dagan has also publicly criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who he says are pushing for military action against Iran.

A broad swatch of defense and economic experts disagree with Dagan and Pardo's assessments, noting that Israel's population and economy are heavily concentrated on the coastal plain, especially around Tel Aviv.

A single nuclear weapon detonating in Tel Aviv, they say, could have a catastrophic impact on Israel's economy and infrastructure, overload its emergency services, and leave it vulnerable to attack from hostile neighbors while its military tried to cope with the chaos that ensured.

Pardo's comments come as officials in Washington and Jerusalem are reportedly discussing "triggers" for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities amid rising tensions between Tehran, the West, and Gulf Arab states allied with the US.