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Iran-US talks help Israel: Ex-Mossad chief


Press TV

Former Mossad Chief, Ephraim Halevy says US-Iran talks presents an 'opportunity' for Israel.
US President Barack Obama's pledge to hold direct talks with Iran would stack the odds in favor of Israel, says a former Mossad chief.

Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Israel's intelligence service, said on Tuesday that Tel Aviv must adopt a "cool-headed" approach vis--vis the Islamic Republic and see Washington-Tehran talks as an "opportunity".

"If they [the Obama administration] want to try a different way on Iran we should not consider this as a threat but as an opportunity," Halevy said.

Earlier in July, he sparked an outcry in Tel Aviv, after he vocally warned against an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure.

Israel would bear the brunt of an air strike on the Islamic Republic "for the next 100 years", asserted the former Mossad chief in an interview with the Time magazine.

"[An Israeli attack] will have a negative effect on the public opinion in the Arab world. Israel should only strike Iran as a last resort," he said.

This is while the New York Times recently revealed that Israel had approached the White House in early 2008 with three requests for an air strike on the Islamic Republic's main nuclear complex.

According to the paper, the requests included specialized bunker-busting bombs, equipment to help refuel fighter jets and permission to use Iraqi air space to reach the site of Iran's only known uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

While the UN nuclear watchdog, in its Sept. 15 report on Iran, declared that it could not find any "components of a nuclear weapon" or "related nuclear physics studies" in the country, Israel accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weaponry.

In a Sept. 23 interview with Newsweek, former US Military Chief General John Abizaid said Israel lacks the military might to abolish Iranian nuclear sites.

"[I doubt whether] the Israelis have the capability to make a lasting impression on the Iranian nuclear program with their military capabilities," said the former head of the US CENTCOM in the Middle East.

He warned that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites would have serious repercussions in the United States and the Middle East.

NATO: West needs Iran to evade sands of war

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the West can only win the war by engaging all the neighbors of Afghanistan, including Iran.

"To my mind, we need a discussion that brings in all the relevant regional players: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Russia, and yes, Iran. We need a pragmatic approach to solve this very real challenge," Scheffer said as he addressed a Monday seminar of the Security and Defense Agenda, a Brussels-based think tank.

"We need to stop looking at Afghanistan as if it were an island. Afghanistan's problems cannot be solved by or within Afghanistan alone, because they are not Afghanistan's problems alone," he added.

The NATO secretary-general said he did not know how exactly the West should go about engaging Iran, but added that the notion itself was a step forward.

Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Western countries have sought to exclude regional powers such as Iran, India and China from matters relating to the restive state.

At the moment NATO stations 55,000 troops in Afghanistan. The US has 34,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan with plans to send another 30,000 from Iraq.

During the Bush administration, the US accused Iran of providing arms to the Taliban in spite of the country being a leading opponent of the group during the five years that the Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

In 1998, the Taliban regime came close to a war with Iran by killing nine Iranian diplomats in the central Afghan city of Mazar Sharif.

An October report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies has also revealed that Iran provided logistics support for the US war against the Taliban following the September 11 attacks.

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