Could Israel live with a nuclear Iran?

IRI may be deterred by Israel's capability to strike back


Could Israel live with a nuclear Iran?
by Joshua Mitnick

Three months before the recent upsurge in tension with Tehran over its nuclear program, an Israeli think tank simulated fallout from what many here consider the unthinkable: an Iranian nuclear explosive test.

The results of the simulation, published this week, are not the Middle East doomsday that some here have warned of.

Rather than use the weapon to attack the Jewish state - as many Israeli leaders fear - the experts playing Iran leveraged the newly unveiled military power as a bargaining chip with the US and Europe. Those representing Israel played down the new threat.

"It doesn't mean immediate war, and this can be a surprise," says Yoel Guzansky, a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, a think tank affiliated with Tel Aviv University. "The sky won't fall."

The simulation reflects an effort to grapple with "the day after," a taboo scenario that many Israeli leaders have suggested should by preempted by a military strike because it would mean an intolerable situation for Israel, which is a sworn enemy of Iran and lies within range of its missiles.

In the simulation, a role-playing exercise used to think through national security questions, Israel was played by a former national security adviser and former deputy foreign minister, while Iran was played by experts from the university and the intelligence community.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian expert based in Tel Aviv, says the simulation adds to a relatively new but growing idea among Israeli experts in a society where fears of a nuclear Iran have long dominated.

"It's becoming more acceptable that Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb will be like driving in Tel Aviv: It could be very dangerous but precautions can be taken to reduce the danger,'' says Mr. Javedanfar.

But plenty of concerns remain. Just today, military planning division chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel warned of a "global nuclear jungle" if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon, an event he suggested would set off a global arms race.

The general also said that a nuclear Iran could also deter Israel from striking at Hamas and Hezbollah.

Escalating tensions

In recent weeks, concerns about the standoff have heightened as Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil-tanker traffic and an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated on the streets of Tehran.

That triggered Iranian accusations against Israel and pledges of retaliation against Israeli targets. In an apparent effort to defuse tension, Israel said on Monday that a missile-defense drill to be carried out jointly with the US planned for the coming weeks had been postponed.

There is little if any discussion in public that Israel, an undeclared nuclear power, might be compelled to become accustomed to a situation of mutual deterrence with Iran. Statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad that Israel will be wiped off the map have prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others to draw comparisons between Iran and Nazi Germany.

However, many consider this to be an inaccurate view of the Iranian leadership. The recently resigned chief of Israel's Mossad, Meir Dagan, recently suggested that Iranian strategy is not irrational and that its leaders might be sufficiently deterred from an attack by Israel's capability to strike back.

'Game-changing' step

But the results of the simulation do suggest a "game change" for the Middle East, as had been expected.

In the simulation, Saudi Arabia moved to acquire its own nuclear weapon. Israel considered for the first time a formal defense pact with the US, while keeping the option open of a military strike against a nuclear Tehran. Iran decided to use its new status to get economic sanctions lifted in return for a promise not to use the weapon.

"It's a political tool," says Mr. Guzansky. "I think that Iran is rational, although it's a different type of rationality than ours."

First published in Christian Science Monitor.

Joshua Mitnick is a freelance journalist who lives in Tel Aviv.



Solution is the IRI Regime Change

by IranFirst on

With IRI and Islamic savages gone, and replaced with a democratic system . The civilized world will even help Iran to have Nuclear power. and a democratic Iran would not need a bomb to spread Arab Islam

Oon Yaroo

A better question! Can Iranians live with a nuclear IRR!?

by Oon Yaroo on

Hell NO!


It has to! :-)

by Disenchanted on


       The answer to the question posed in the title of the blog!

       Iran will master the nuclear technology due time with mullas or without!

       The solution is a universal ban on such weapons. Nuclear apartheid is a disgrace for humanity in this day and age!


A bomb for Iran would indeed be ...

by Bavafa on

ONLY a political tool.

One that it will give it much more cloud in ME and possibly the world. 

  The chance of Iran using the bomb FIRST against any adversary, is about to NIL, with the office reason, that will put a definite end to Iran and IRI and the Mullahs will never risk such thing.   

A nuclear Iran will however be a power sharing in the region and will put an end to Israel monopoly in terms of the only military power in ME.


Although a nuclear Iran will give Iran much more power, it will not be good for the world as a whole. 

  A fair and just solution is for a nuclear free middle east in the near future and nuclear free world as the end goal.


'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 



Better question would be

by Abarmard on

Does Israel have a choice?

The psychology of having the bomb may make more sense if all the chips against Iran is based on that objective and Iranian system view the development of a bomb as a victory against the West. Otherwise Iranian system will not develop the bomb but will have the capability. Many believe that Iran is already there.

According to one Iranian official "They (West) warning that Iran will have the bomb next year for ten years now..."



by masoudA on

I did not say the mollahs are suicidal - in fact they will never attack Isreal.   If they get the bomb...they will just hand it to the Arabs.....those are the ones that are suicidal.   The mollhas have been using Arab terrorists for years.  

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

MassoudA Jan

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I disagree with you about the deterrence part. The mollahs are not suicidal. They gladly send others to die but not themselves. Nevertheless I hope they are gone before it matters.


Dear Josh

by masoudA on

IR may be detered by Isreal Capabilty to strike back?    are you kidding?   That statement alone was enough to ruin your whole article for have built your political theory on a sad misunderstanding.   IR is the Islamic Republic of anti-Iran.   I know it's hard for you to accept how 70 million can be ruled by some 100,000 - but it's a sad fact.   The whole thing started about 50 years after Mohammad.   The Arabs captured/invaded Iran.....killed every man with balls.....and enslaved every good looking woman and children, took them out of Iran.   Get it?   The Arabs held beheading ceremonies in every major city and town in Iran, and immediately made it illegal to speak Parsi anywhere in Iran - that alone lasted 200 years.   Dear Josh - I am telling you all of this so you understand when I tell you: IF IR/Arabs get the Bomb - the first place it would be detonated would be somewhere in Iran - they will probabaly call it an accident!!!  Most Iranians know that - and hopefully now - you do too.  

One more thing - Many Moslems, like many Christians are still fighting the Crusades... I have a feeling upon getting the bomb, Vatican will have far more to worry about than Jerusilum!!!


Yes with Nuclear Iran, No with Nuclear Regime

by Faramarz on

Almost every nuclear-armed country has had a serious conflict or territorial dispute with its adversary or neighbor. That is not true in the case of Iran.

With Saddam gone, Iran and Iranians do not have any territorial issues with Iraq or their other neighbors. The dispute over the three islands in the Persian Gulf can be resolved by splitting the oil and gas revenue with UAE.

The conflict with Israel and the west is completely man-made and created by the Regime dating back to the day that Khomeini set foot in Iran.


You need certain qualifications to answer this question....

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

To start with, you need to be a Jew.... 

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan


by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


But after Iran has a secular government with sane people running it.

Esfand Aashena

The answer is Yes! They've been waiting and warning for years!

by Esfand Aashena on

Everything is sacred

Arash Kamangir

The answer is no

by Arash Kamangir on

Israel has said many times that they are not prepared to tolerate a nucklear IR and it is good so. Can you ever imagine how the bloody Mullahs would behave if they ever have the bomb?

Maryam Hojjat

Iran is Rational but different Rationality

by Maryam Hojjat on

Great & true statement.