This is an excellent article illustrating the immense strategic complexity for all nuclear armed actors. Nothing remains simple when you think harder about this subject. Any first thoughts of what makes sense rapidly gets undone by second and third thoughts.

For example, I wrote an article for the Cipher Brief that mirrors the “unthinkable” thoughts of Herman Kahn regarding nuclear strategies, updated for the current situation with Israel, Iran and the Palestinians. Will Iranian rocket science become so accurate that nuclear-armed missiles aimed at Tel Aviv will kill only Israelis and no Palestinians? Israelis and Palestinians live on top of each other. Given a mere 2-3% targeting error, it’s far more likely that most Palestinians would perish along with most Israelis at the very same time. Thus, Iran would solve the impossible Israel-Palestinian problem by destroying both peoples simultaneously. How would Palestinians feel about that? Plus, probably say goodbye to the Dome of the Rock, Islam’s third holiest site. How would Iranians feel about that as their historic legacy?

Check out my article: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/column_article/how-iran-makes-israel-protector-of-the-palestinian-people

David Charney

Expand full comment

To my humble opinion, it does make no sense (and it is a waste of time) (for Israel) to enter into nuclear arms talks with a rogue mafia-state like the one in Iran.

And BTW the same reasoning goes with China, North Korea, and Russia. I am not saying that you should not have open diplomatic channels between both countries. But why would one expect sincerity from a dictatorship? Talks for such a dictatorship are merely a way to gain time and throw sand into our eyes.

We are very naive to project our sense of rationality with such dictatorships.

The only aim for the ayatollahs (and Putin, CCP, Kim Yong-un) is to stay in power by all means possibly, including treachery. And unfortunately in the case of Iran (and also Noth Korea), they have (both) understood that possessing a nuclear umbrella protects them from Western military retaliation. Look at the situation in Ukraine: why does NATO not get involved in the war? Simply because Moscow has nuclear weapons.

As for Israel , I do not see the added value for Tel Aviv in revealing their possession of nuclear weapons. It is public secret, and when you are in geostrategic standoff, it is not transparency that one must herald, but instead strategic ambiguity.

A good example for the use of strategic ambiguity is the position of Washington about Taiwan. It is not very clear for the CCP whether the U.S. would really directly get involved into a shooting war about Taiwan. The TRA is not explicit about it, but then the US president said the U.S. would fight back China in case of an invasion of Taiwan. Such ambiguity poses a strategic uncertainty for Beijing, and thus it makes strategic planning more difficult.

Plus, the problem is here not whether Israel has nuclear weapons or not (we all know they do, and that is fine), but whether Iran should itself get nuclear weapons. And the answer is NO.

Expand full comment