Why Israel Can’t Rely on Deterrence Against Iran’s Nuclear Program

Israel must strengthen its nuclear deterrence posture, writes Louis René Beres.


Israel must continue to develop, test and implement an Arrow-based interception capability to match the growing threat dictated by all enemy ballistic missiles. It must also prepare for certain possible preemptions, and take steps to enhance the credibility of its nuclear deterrent. Israel must  thus operationalize a recognizable second-strike nuclear force, one that is hardened and dispersed, and that is ready to inflict an unacceptable retaliatory salvo against identifiable enemy cities.

Israel must make it clear to any would-be nuclear aggressor that Arrow defenses would always operate simultaneously with decisive Israeli nuclear retaliations. In no way, Iran must understand, does Arrow deployment preclude, or even render less probable, an Israeli nuclear reprisal.

Arrow is necessary for Israeli security, but it is not sufficient.

Together with the United States, Israel exists in the cross-hairs of a far-reaching Jihad that that will likely not conform to any of the settled international rules of diplomacy and negotiation. Under no circumstances can Israel and the United States afford to allow a seventh-century view of the world to be combined with 21st century weapons of mass destruction.

The Arrow-based ballistic missile defense is indispensable for Israel, but it is not enough. Although, after Bushehr, it is already very late, Israel and the United States, singly, or in collaboration, may yet have to preemptively destroy certain of Iran’s pertinent nuclear infrastructures, whatever the anticipated consequences. To be rational, this fateful decision will ultimately depend upon informed comparisons with the expected risks of “living” with a nuclear Iran.

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