Israel's leaders were preparing for an attack on Iran, fearing that the Islamic republic might be gearing up to develop a nuclear weapon, but Shimon Peres believes he slammed the breaks on the plan, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported Friday.
"I stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran," Peres told newspaper in 2014. He asked that the journalists interviewing him only publish the quote "when I'm dead," the paper said.
Israel's government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has long spoken out against efforts by US President Barack Obama to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme.
Even after the deal was concluded last year, Israel was formally critical. The Defence Ministry in April compared the deal to the Munich Agreement between European powers and Nazi Germany in 1938. The statement was met with sharp criticism and ultimately retracted.
Within Israel's ruling elite, including the military, there were concerns over Netanyahu's belligerence and several officials said they refused to prepare a strike against Iran during the most heated era, between 2009 and 2011.
"Was it in fact Peres, the architect of Israel's nuclear program, who ultimately foiled an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites? He thought so, although he didn't say how he did it," wrote Steve Linde, the author of the piece in the Post.
Peres served as president of Israel, a largely symbolic post, from 2007 until 2014.