Ex-Mossad Chief to International Community: Sanctions Only Way to Halt Iran's Nuclear Program

In a Wall Street Journal article co-authored with former intelligence officials and former diplomats, Meir Dagan outlines four steps the international community should take to stop Tehran's nuclear program.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan co-penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday and urged the international community to opt for tough sanctions on Iran in order to stop its nuclear program.

Dagan, who has been carrying out a public campaign against an Israeli military strike on Iran over the past few months, took his efforts to the international arena with the article, which he co-authored with a number of international intelligence officials and former diplomats, with a particular focus on U.S. decision makers.

For the article entitled, Dagan, Hanning, Woolsey, Guthrie, Silverberg and Wallace: Total Sanctions Might Stop Iran" - published in a newspaper that is seen as belonging to the right-wing conservative camp - Dagan enlisted the help of former head of the CIA James Woolsey, former head of the German intelligence services, August Hanning, a former chief of staff of the British armed forces, General Charles Guthries, a U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Kristen Silverberg, and a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Wallace.

Dagan and his co-authors are part of a new intitiative of the American-based organization "United Against Nuclear Iran," and the U.K.-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Our near future carries the risk of a military conflict with Iran, or a nuclear arms race in the already-volatile Middle East, wrote Dagan and the other officials.

It is still possible to avoid these outcomes, but only if like-minded nations act immediately to deliver a potentially decisive economic blow to the regime. It is still in Iran's interest to change course and address international concerns regarding possible military aspects of its nuclear program. Our rationale is based on strong empirical evidence from the last few months that sanctions are having a tangible impact.

Dagan and his colleagues laid out four steps that the international community must carry out in order to further isolate Iran, and in this way, prevent the need to use military force to stop its nuclear program:

1. To completely isolate Iran from the international banking system. By designating all Iranian banks for sanctions, the global community can fully sever Iran from the international financial system, the article said.

2. To require all U.S. and EU companies to disclose any and all investments and business transactions in Iran. Dagan and his co-writers are convinced that the moment companies are required to disclose their irresponsible business activities in Iran is the moment they end such business for risk of reputational harm.

3. To deny Iran access to international shipping, a move that would severely affect the regime given its dependence on global trade and seaborne crude oil exports, the article said. Aligned nations should prohibit international cargo shippers that service Iranian ports or do business with the Tidewater Middle East Co. (which handles 90% of Iran's container traffic) from shipping to the U.S., EU and elsewhere.

4. All insurance companies working with Iran should be prohibited from operating in the U.S. and the EU.

Dagan and his co-writers claim that tough sanctions will mainly harm the Iranian regime and the revolutionary guard, which they say controls the Iranian economy and profits at the expense of the Iranian people.

History has made clear that the regime will never change course due to half-measures; only serious steps like we've outlined have a chance of success, Dagan and his colleagues wrote.

With Iran finally feeling real impact from international sanctions, now is the time to increase the pressure," they added.

Dagan and his collaborators also added that, We cannot state with certainty that sanctions and pressure will compel the Iranian regime to change course. But it's common sense that before undertaking military action against a country, we should first try to dissuade it from its current course by applying decisive economic pressure. Doing so will show the regime that the world is serious and committed, willing to do whatever it takes to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In April, Dagan told a New York conference that Iran's leadership is using "smart" diplomacy to advance its nuclear program, and that the Iranian threat is not a "quarrel" between Israel and Iran, but an international issue.

He told the conference that he agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu's government that the Iran threat is a real problem, but disagreed with their policy on solving it. If the problem will not be resolved, Dagan added, a nuclear arms race will begin "all over the world, and not just in the Middle East."

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Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Emil Salman