As the tension between Israel and Iran intensifies, and Iran has just unveiled its first hypersonic missile, rumors about advancements in the Iranian nuclear program are growing even more distressing. While Israel threatens Iran not to try to attack it, Iran threatens back that it will demolish Israel if it attacks Iran. What is worse, in this round of the conflict, Israel seems more isolated than ever, as even the U.S. seems reluctant to act against the ayatollah regime.
The U.S., we must remember, has its own interests to look after, which do not always coincide with Israeli interests. Therefore, at the end of the day, we should not hang our hopes on America.
Concerning Iran, I do not think that the threat of a nuclear Iran is as serious as the Iranians would like us to think. More than a weapon of mass destruction, a nuclear weapon is a tactical weapon. It is a political tool intended to improve Iran’s position in the Muslim world.
The Muslim world has been engaged for centuries in power struggles between Sunnis, represented today by Saudi Arabia, and Shiites, now represented by Iran. The majority of Muslims and Arabs in the world are Sunni, and Iran has been on the defensive in its struggle to dominate the Arab world. Clearly, an atomic bomb that can threaten Israel, as well as the rest of the world, will place Iran in a completely different position, especially since no other country in the Persian Gulf has nuclear weapons.
But the Iranians are not a mob of hooligans. Their leaders are calculated and do not act rashly. In the pursuit of prestige, the ability to threaten Israel with nuclear warheads is a card that will likely be used carefully and not wasted in a reckless mistake. Iran knows this very well.
Moreover, Iran knows that Israel reportedly has its own nuclear arsenal and can retaliate against any attack on its people with horrible consequences. Therefore, it may be instrumental for Iran to threaten and try to frighten Israel, but I find it hard to believe that it would take any action to realize its threats.
In many ways, the situation between a nuclear Iran and a nuclear Israel would be similar to the situation that existed between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In those days, both countries developed more and more nuclear weapons, but both countries were equally careful not to use them. They knew that if they did, there would be no way back and the world would be destroyed.
In my opinion, the presence of nuclear weapons decreases rather than increases the chance of active hostilities between countries. Both countries know that starting a war against a country with nuclear weapons makes no sense whatsoever. Therefore, Israel must stay vigilant and prepare to retaliate quickly and forcefully, but avoid reckless actions.
In other words, nuclear weapons could actually calm Iran and lead it to a more pragmatic policy.
Where I would be careful, though, when it comes to Iran, is in its use of proxy paramilitary and terror groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Here, Israel must be active and decisive.
Originally published by Israel Hayom.