Ex-Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan headlines motley group pressing for tougher sanctions against Iran

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Since stepping down as Mossad director early last year, former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan has led the Israeli charge against an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. He has argued that Iran’s nuclear program has already been set back–(including by covert activities undertaken during his leadership of the Mossad)–and that Israel should continue to let the US-led international alliance pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Today, Dagan takes his argument to the Wall Street Journal–notably in an oped jointly written by an international group of Iran hawks, including former CIA director Jim Woolsey, and two former George W. Bush administration officials aligned with the GOP, Mark Wallace, the head of United Against a Nuclear Iran, and Kristen Silverberg, former Bush-era ambassador to the EU. The oped argues that now is the time to double down on economic sanctions against Iran:

 

As the Iranian regime races to fulfill its nuclear ambitions, the world faces a stark choice. Our near future carries the risk of a military conflict with Iran, or a nuclear arms race in the already-volatile Middle East. 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. …

 

With these measures in place, now is the time for the international community to truly isolate the regime. This means passing the most robust sanctions against Iran in history. We propose decisive action in four key areas.

 

Among the actions the group proposes: further isolating Iran from the international banking system, requiring companies to disclose investments in Iran, and tightening sanctions on insurance and shipping needed for Iranian exports of its energy resources.

The group oped begs the question: Did Dagan recruit the Iran hawks to his sanctions-not-Israeli-strikes position? Or did United Against a Nuclear Iran recruit Dagan?

(Another contact involved with the group said Wallace recruited Dagan to United, and motive is sanctions not war. “Nothing GOP about it,” he said. And my colleague Barbara Slavin notes that former IAEA inspector Olli Heinonen is also on the board of United. Was I mistaken that those were United bus ads in DC that I thought show Obama and Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei?)