THINKING NUCLEAR ABOUT IRAN
By Micah Halpern
Thursday May 27, 2010
There is a synapse between the assumed nuclear power possessed by Iran and Iran's goals for their nuclear capability and the reality of Iran's nuclear arsenal.
# 1: If Iran were to attack Israel, especially with a non-conventional weapon like a nuclear warhead, Israel would destroy Iran. Attacking Israel is tantamount to committing national suicide and Iranian leadership does not have a death wish.
# 2: Iran's advancement in nuclear technology does not imply an increase in nuclear weapons.
Iran today is a far cry from Russia in the 1970's. Self preservation was the driving force keeping the Russians and the United States from engaging in a nuclear encounter. The expression used at the time was "avoiding a nuclear holocaust." The reasoning went: if they shoot then we will shoot, and in the end, both of us will be annihilated. It was also called MAD for Mutual Assured Destruction. This concept became the foundation of nuclear deterrence.
The Middle East is not Europe and Iran is not Russia. There are many reasons why decisions are made by leaders in the Middle East, not the least is pride and machismo. The need to prove religious superiority is another top reason.
Iran does not have a history of attacking. Iran has a history of either utilizing their proxies or of provoking attacks in order to initiate counter attacks. So the scenario would play out like this: Israel would be the first to strike. Israel would hit Iran's nuclear resources and nuclear sites with conventional weapons. Iran would then counter strike. If Iran counters with even one non-conventional warhead, Israel would strike back again. The deterrence argument that was so powerful in the 70's has no play in the year 2010.
And the Middle East is not Japan. Nuclear energy does not mean nuclear weapons. Right now, we truly have no idea Iran's nuclear objectives. How large, or how small, Iran's nuclear program is and how large they intend to enlarge it?
It is wise to assume that Iran's leaders will not follow in the footsteps of European and American leaders. They will follow in the footsteps of that other Middle East leader Saddam Hussein when he launched his scuds into Israel.