Iranian nukes would threaten Israel's hegemony, not existence

The bottom line of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency report on the Iranian nuclear programme, published this week, is that Tehran can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt. For the first time since the Iranian centrifuges went into action, the IAEA seemed convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that Iran does not seek nuclear energy for strictly peaceful purposes. They want the bomb.



It was presumably the IAEA’s diplomatic caution that prevented it from reaching this conclusion sooner.  To everybody else, however, it was as clear as day: why would one of OPEC’s largest oil producers seek alternative energy sources?  It probably wasn’t a green epiphany; a regime famous for its disregard for democracy and human rights is unlikely to champion equally altruistic causes like the future of the planet.


Iran knows full well, and so do its rivals, that possessing a nuclear arsenal would radically change the balance of power in the Middle East or, more accurately, create one – literally - because currently the scales are so tremendously tilted in Israel's favour, as the region’s only nuclear superpower. This is the main reason for Israel’s incensed reaction to the IAEA report: an Iranian bomb would indeed be a threat, but contrary to what the Jewish state claims, it won’t be an existential threat. It will simply be a threat to Israel's undisputable hegemony in the Middle East, one that has for so long enabled it to callously impose its will on its neighbours, great and small, and get away virtually unscathed.



Israel’s founders realised, from a very early stage, that nukes are the name of the postwar game. Already in the early 1960s, with the trusted help of France, its then closest ally, Israel invested a surprisingly large proportion of its meagre GDP in developing a nuclear capacity, despite having to deal with a towering external debt and the numerous social problems it incurred as a society composed mainly of newly-arrived immigrants. Cloaked in unfathomable secrecy, Israel’s nuclear programme successfully eschewed international attention as well as condemnation and, with America turning a blind eye, its nuclear arsenal soon boasted several dozen warheads. A long-standing policy of deliberate ambiguity, still in place, has served a dual purpose: unconfirmed rumours of a mighty nuclear arsenal have been an effective deterrent, while allowing Israel at the same time to escape international scrutiny under the Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Treaty, which it never signed.


The nuclear option is largely seen as Israel’s insurance policy against annihilation. Thankfully it has never been put to the test, although some would argue, with a good deal of justice, that a scenario of such catastrophic scale existed only in the paranoid minds of Israelis. But, as the cliché goes, even paranoids have enemies, and those were either unable or reluctant – but most likely both - to challenge Israel to opt for the doomsday option and let all hell break loose.



Similarly, once Iran produces nuclear warheads – a stage that is not imminent according to any estimation, including the damning IAEA report – it doesn’t mean it will immediately use them. If Tehran has learnt anything from the Israeli case – and the North Korean one, just as well – is that refraining from fulfilling your nuclear potential often yields better results than actually doing it. It's not a mushroom cloud that would appear in the wake of the Iranian bomb, but a bipolar Middle East, which would significantly limit Israel's hitherto unhindered room for manoeuvre. But the biggest losers would be the Arab states, caught between two warring powers that have traditionally shown little concern for their interests and welfare.


Gilad Halpern


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Gilad Halpern , Stop dreaming ,or take a clear one side text. My great respect to that tiny country Israel , which we never hear complaining like those countries around her. About Iran , it’s like giving the milk to a cat and order it not to drink until we comeback. And after all nobody fears Iran “ empty vessels sound the most ! ” Time will tell us who is who dear keep showing yourself . Emi

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