Encountering Peace: Nukes out of the box
The repercussions of an Israeli attack are far beyond the ability of any expert to predict.
IAEA in Vienna Photo: Elana Kirsh
A unilateral Israeli attack against Iran is insane; too risky, dangerous
irresponsible and strategically ill-conceived.
Iran cannot be allowed to
have a nuclear weapon. A nuclear Iran is not an existential threat to Israel, it
is an existential threat to the world. A nuclear Iran will create an arms race
in the region and with so many terrorist organizations and so much
state-supported terror the world cannot afford for so much enriched nuclear fuel
to be available in the market place of the Middle East.
in Israel and among its republican friends in the US is that Iran can only be
stopped by military action. The arguments among those advocating an attack are
about when it must take place. These debates revolve primarily around differing
definition of the “red line” – the point of no return, when the Iranian program
becomes weaponized, or nearly weaponized. For the time being there is consensus
among the experts that Iran has not yet made the decision to construct a bomb.
There is no consensus on whether or not Iran is already at a stage of being
Most of the former heads of Israel’s security
establishment have come out clearly against a unilateral Israeli strike. They
speak about the limitations of such an attack – how much damage to the Iranian
nuclear program can be achieved? They also speak of the consequences; mainly the
potential damage from the retaliation of Iran and Hezbollah.
In light of
the retaliatory potential of Hezbollah with its long-range missile arsenal,
there is now talk in the Israeli security establishment of the need to not only
hit targets in Iran but to also include a simultaneous pre-emptive attack
against Hezbollah. In other words, they are planning a regional war.
the calculus of this planning there is the Israeli belief that the Arab Sunni
states of the region would a priori bless the Israeli attack and be relieved if
the Iranian nuclear program were degraded. I contend that this is a false
assumption and should not be taken for granted.
I CONTEND that the new
regimes and the Arab and Muslim street will not support an Israeli attack
against Iran, quite the opposite, even if they too are fearful of an Iranian
bomb and the strengthening of the regime of the Ayatollahs.
important, the repercussions of an Israeli attack are far beyond the ability of
any expert to predict. The risks are enormous, the potential damage to our
economy and infrastructure, and the potential loss of human life are simply too
high to venture into the planned attack.
There is no way to ensure that
hundreds of missiles from Iran or from Lebanon would not rain on the civilian
population in the center of the country or on vital and strategic infrastructure
all around the country.
Yes, Iran cannot be allowed to achieve a nuclear
bomb. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claims that the international community
is not doing enough to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The international
community must take responsibility for ensuring that it will not happen. So must
Israel. That is clearly the responsibility of the government to its people. A
military attack against Iran is not the only contribution that Israel can make
to the process. More creativity and thinking out-of- the-box is required to avert
the potential disastrous effects of a new Middle East War.
toolbox is not limited to bombs. In an article I wrote several months ago called
“The unintended consequences of an Israel attack against Iran” I wrote that the
outcome of such an attack may be a demand from the international community for
Israel to put an end to its policy of ambiguity regarding the existence of
Israeli nuclear bombs, and that Israel may be required to join the
non-proliferation treaty. I now call for Israel to voluntarily undertake these
steps as a means to exert additional pressure on the international community and
on Iran to prevent both the Iranian weaponization and a possible Israeli attack
At the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty
on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Final Document in the section
titled: “The Middle East” reads as follows: 2. The Conference reaffirms its
endorsement of the aims and objectives of the Middle East peace process, and
recognizes that efforts in this regard, as well as other efforts, contribute to,
inter alia, a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons
of mass destruction.
5. The Conference recalls the reaffirmation by the
2000 Review Conference of the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty and
the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA
7. (a) The Secretary-General of the United Nations... in
consultation with the States of the region, will convene a conference in 2012,
to be attended by all States of the Middle East, on the establishment of a
Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass
The Conference on the establishment of a Middle East Zone
free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction is planned for
the end of 2012. In advance of that conference, which Israel should announce now
that it will attend, Israel should also pre-emptively announce that it is ending
its policy of ambiguity and should invite the inspectors of the IAEA to come to
Israel to document the full extent of Israel’s presumed nuclear
But it does not stop there. Israel should announce its intention
and it strategic goal of ensuring that the entire Middle East becomes a region
free of all weapons of mass destruction and that Israel will play its part in
achieving that in the framework of regional and international
With this strategy adopted by the government of Israel, the
international community would be fully empowered to use the full force of
diplomacy, including Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter enabling the
use of force endorsed by the full international community, including Russia and
China, against Iran. This would be a much more strategically sound and safe
Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel
Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem
Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of
the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.