Israel plays down chances for Iran regime change
The head of the Mossad intelligence agency said on Tuesday Israel doubted that unrest over Iran's disputed election would lead to any regime change or alleviate concerns about Tehran's atomic programme, Reuters reported.
Meir Dagan told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that "Iranian reality isn't about to change following the elections," said an official briefing reporters after the session.
"Will there be a revolution? I doubt it," added Dagan, a veteran of the agency that keeps a close watch on the Islamic Republic whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the contested winner of Friday's poll, has called for Israel's destruction.
Despite Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel pronouncements, Dagan suggested Israel was more comfortable with his declared victory in Friday's poll over reformist candidate Mirrhossein Mousavi.
Mousavi's moderate reputation may have made it harder to press on with world pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear development, which Israel thinks may lead to production of an atomic bomb within five years, Dagan said.
As Iranian prime minister in the 1980's Mousavi had a role in the launch of Iran's nuclear programme, and if he had won "it would have been more difficult for us, Israel" to try to halt its work, Dagan was quoted to have said.
Dagan said Iran's nuclear programme was "a threat of existential significance for Israel, and it must be neutralised," but there was still room to try and do so by means of diplomatic pressure and sanctions against Tehran.
Previous diplomatic and economic pressure had succeeded in slowing Iran's nuclear development in 2003, Dagan maintained.
Iran says its nuclear project is intended solely to enable the production of electricity. Experts believe Israel possesses the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, a subject on which the Jewish state refuses to comment.