Jerusalem’s Itchy Trigger Finger

Yonatan Touval December 2013
Op-eds / Israel and the Middle East

Of all the dangers associated with a nuclear-armed Iran — from the onset of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and an Iranian extension of “a nuclear umbrella” to regional proxies, from a nuclear bomb falling into terrorist hands to an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel or even on the United States — the one we should take most seriously goes virtually unmentioned: a miscalculated nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran. It’s a risk that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei should consider carefully; when push comes to shove, having a bomb might only make a conflict between the two countries more likely. In fact, when considering how this chain of events might unfold, the basic strategic calculus would suggest that it is Israel — rather than Iran — that would be more liable to make the calamitous mistake of initiating a nuclear conflagration.

This assessment is not invoked lightly, let alone accusingly. Since Israel first obtained nuclear military capabilities in the late 1960s, it has proven itself to be an extremely responsible nuclear power. In fact, given the level of threat the country has faced — including the perceived threat to its very existence during the 1973 Yom Kippur War — Israel might well be deemed the most responsible nuclear power in the world.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy

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