Israel’s Nuclear Foreign Policy on Iran is Rather Ambivalent
After the Second World War, many countries conceived the idea ofpossessing nuclear weapons. The weapons the United States usedagainst Japan ushered in the age of nuclear technology. Countrieswith massive military prowess in the word, including, China, India,the United States, Britain, France, India, and Korea are known tohave nuclear artillery. Nevertheless, usage of the arms in the timeof war is a closely guarded activity. After the Hiroshima attack, thedetrimental effects of nuclear arsenal triggered the internationalcommunity to introduce sanctions. Besides, the countries haveprovisions under which they can use the military hardware. Accordingto Fuhrmann and Kreps, Israel remains one of the countries withsecretive nuclear production policies (3). The country is not asignatory to NPT that allows international players to investigate thepresence and size of nuclear activities in the member countries.Israel has been keen in the pro-active thwarting of securitythreats it will not possibly attack Iran because doing so would giveIran a legitimate reason to withdrawal from the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty, which will make it even a more dangerousthreat.
The world superpowers believe that Israel is among the countries thatpossess nuclear technology. Fuhrmann and Kreps provide that it isbelieved that the nation developed its first nuclear technology in1966, but kept the idea a closely guarded secret. The state has alsorefused to be a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT). Eiran and Malin also agree that Israel maintains a foreignpolicy referred to as “Nuclear Ambiguity” (79). That is, althoughit has not denied possessing nuclear arsenal, it still maintains thatit would not use the artillery in the Middle East (80). Its capacityin the technology remains a top-secret that is only known to closemilitary allies such as the United States.
Nonetheless, Israel is, outrightly, clear on pro-active securitymeasures on its rivals who strive to develop weapons of massdestruction using the technology. The ministry of defense has beenconsistent in restricting other regional players the capacity toacquire nuclear arms. The denial by the military to possess suchweapons is probably a tactic to prevent other countries from pursuinga similar path. Israel fears that its close association with the Westmay predispose it to attacks from its enemies.
Iran remains one of the most controversial countries with regard tothe security of Israel and other countries in the region. Cordesmanagrees that, Iran is subject to the scrutiny of the internationalcommunity. In April 2015, Fabius Laurent, the French foreign ministerindicated that the suspected nuclear tests in Iran were enough tocause jitters among the countries in the region. The minister wasresponding to the shared belief that Israel would attack Iran as apreventive strategy. Additionally, Israeli Prime Minister, BenjaminNetanyahu, reiterated that Israel is not part of the NPT treaty.However, he confirmed that the current administration in Iran wasworking towards destabilizing Israel. Therefore, Israel has the rightand obligation to defend its territories and citizens using itsmilitary might (Parsi). Nonetheless, the possibility of Israelattacking Iran has been subject to international exaggeration. Thereare reasons why Israel is skeptical and hesitant.
First, if Israel implements its nuclear foreign policy to the letter,and launches an attack on Iran, it might lose the war. Moreover, ifIsrael’s military had the determination to attack Iran nuclearreactors, it could have carried out the activity long ago. Accordingto Cordesman, since 1993 when the Yom Kippur war caught the countryunaware, the government has been entirely dedicated to proactivesecurity measures. In particular, when it comes to nuclear weapons,Israel has been fervent in destabilizing any of the neighbors withnuclear ideologies. For example, when the government, through itsintelligence units, learned of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program,its bombers grounded it immediately (D`amato 584). Saddam only had asingle program as opposed to Iran, which key players in theinternational security, believe has several nuclear plants (D`amato586). Moreover, the country lethally attacked Syria nuclear reactor afew months after learning of its activities.
It is clear that Israel’s foreign policy on Syria and Iraq sharplycontrasts with the approach it takes on Iran’s nuclear program.According to Bahgat, Iran operates a Uranium enrichment facility atNatanz and another water reactor at Arak (308). More than 14 yearshave elapsed since the presence of these facilities became public.The ministry of defense witnessed the facilities develop to theirfull capacity without launching any pro-active attacks (Parsi 79).Additionally, the United States, a close ally of Israel has beenhesitant in crippling Iran’s nuclear capacity. Without the goodwill of key stakeholders, Israel cannot be certain of winning the warwithout suffering deleterious post-war effects.
Furthermore, Israel’s nuclear foreign policy may trigger Iran touse the situation as an exit strategy from the NPT. According toCordesman, Israel’s attack on Iran’s nuclear facility wouldheighten the chances of Iran building a bomb. The nation is underhefty sanctions because it is a member of NPT. The government caneasily pursue its nuclear strategy after renouncing its membership tothe treaty. The rationale for this is that attacking Iran would makeit appear defenseless. Being a member of the NTF, it enjoys theimmunity from attacks perpetrated by member countries unless in anagreed situation resulting from an audacious violation of the laws(Cordesman). Israel being a non-member to the NPT does not have toinvolve the sentiments of the signatories when launching aproscriptive attack. Besides, according to Eiran and Martin, if Irancannot enjoy the protection of NPT, then terminating its membershipwould be a better recourse (81). According to Cordesman, lifting theresponsibility bestowed upon it by NPT would grant an environmentfree of investigation and international scrutiny. The SupremeLeader, Ali Khamenei, would justify rescinding the ‘Fatwa’ incase of an attack.
Another reason that makes Israel ambivalent on attacking Iran’snuclear facilities is that it would be a self-inflicted wound. Irancould use the attack to wangle popularity in the Middle East (Eiranand Malin 82). In addition, Iran will reap from the collapsedinternational sanctions. On the same note, Iran can retaliate bylaunching attacks on Israel. According to Chang, should the Iranianforces target the United States’ facilities in Israel and othercountries in the region, it would lacerate the military relationshipthat exists between Israel and the United States (4). In America, warweariness has resonated in the society and the citizens abhor anyleader who would trawl them into another war.
Finally, Israel and Iran have uncomplimentary regional mutualpolicies. The agreement that Iran has with the United States to limitthe possession of nuclear weapons stands as the best remedy for thecurrent situation (Chang 5). Should Iran and the United States strikean agreement, Israel would benefit from the relaxed trade policiesand the elimination of immediate threat. Besides, Chang agrees thatIsrael military leaders have embraced the expected agreement betweenthe two countries as the indispensable recourse for the country’ssecurity (12). Although the Prime Minister, Netanyahu, has beenfervent on an obstructive attack on Iran, most members of the cabinetbelieve that there is hope in the American driven agreement withIran. Any foreign policy activity involving preclude actions requiresthe validation of the whole cabinet (Chang 11). A majority of themilitary chiefs believe that it is not the right time for Israel toattack Iran.
In conclusion, although Israel has been keen in pro-active thwartingof security threats, it will not possibly attack Iran because doingso would give Iran legitimate reason to withdrawal from the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty making it even a more dangerous threat. Inaddition, Iran may retaliate and attack Israel and the United Statesassets in the region (Chang 6). The move would strain America’srelationship with Israel. Contrary to the celerity with which Israelattacked Syria and Iraq’s nuclear programs, Israel has to beskeptical of Iran’s nuclear activities. Additionally, any foreignpolicy of preclusive nature requires the ratification of the cabinet.Netanyahu does not enjoy the support of the majority of the cabinetand military chiefs. The idealization of the interim agreementbetween the United States and Iran remains the optimal choice forIsrael. It would not only relax the trade policies but also eliminatethe ever escalating fear of attack.
Bahgat, Gawdat."Nuclear Proliferation: The Islamic Republic of Iran."Iranian Studies 39.3 (2006): 307-327. Print.
Chang, Keung Ryong."Will Israel take military strike against Iran?." KoreanJournal of Middle East Studies 34-3 (2013): 01-16. Print.
Cordesman, AnthonyH. "Iran, Israel, and Nuclear War." Washington: Centerfor Strategic and International Studies 19 (2007). Print.
D`amato, Anthony."Israel`s Air Strike Upon the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor." TheAmerican Journal of International Law 77.3 (1983): 584-588.Print.
Eiran, Ehud, andMartin B. Malin. "The Sum of all Fears: Israel`s Perception of aNuclear-Armed Iran." The Washington Quarterly 36.3(2013): 77-89. Print.
Fuhrmann, Matthew,and Sarah E. Kreps. "Targeting nuclear programs in war andpeace: A quantitative empirical analysis, 1941–2000." Journalof Conflict Resolution (2010). Print.
Parsi, Trita. "Iranand Israel: The Avoidable War." Middle East Policy 14.3(2007): 79. Print.