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Less than two weeks after asserting that Iran would not have a nuclear bomb before 2015, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan backtracked on his previous statement yesterday.

Speaking at a farewell meeting with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Dagan said that whatever the timetable, "this doesn't change the essential fact that Iran is seeking military nuclear capability. And under certain scenarios, [Iran] could shorten the timetable."

"It's important that we learn the lesson of North Korea, which wasn't dealt with properly and didn't receive attention from the international community," he added.

"The intelligence community will have to cope with these challenges, but I believe in its ability, and that of the State of Israel, to do so successfully."

All of the Knesset members in attendance thanked Dagan for his contributions to national security.

"Many Israelis, and many people, owe their lives to the Mossad you headed," said MK Avi Dichter (Kadima ), a former chief of the Shin Bet security service. "It could be that there are also some people who owe their deaths to you. I'm happy about the former and don't regret the latter."