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Why Israel fears an Iranian bomb

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Abstract

Israel's leaders have long portrayed the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb in terms that are highly apocalyptic. As a US official has pointed out, politicians and generals in Tel Aviv are 'treating a nuclear-arming Iran as an immediate existential threat' to their country's interests. But the real reasons for Tel Aviv's concern are likely to be very different from those that are commonly cited. Much more important than any supposed military threat to the Jewish state are instead the serious political risks that it could conceivably entail, risks that could imperil Israel's relationships with both the United States and with the Palestinian people. One reason why the political fallout of an Iranian bomb could contaminate Israel's relationship with the United States is that the mullahs could offer to make the elimination of their own nuclear arsenal dependent on a similar move by the Israeli government. While Iran's bid to develop nuclear arms could perhaps herald a military confrontation with the United States, their acquisition would be much more likely to lead to a new diplomatic rapprochement – a quarter century after the rupture of relations – that would tempt Washington to focus on meeting Iran's nuclear challenge at the expense of Israel's own perceived interests.

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... It may be less concerned. Of interesting note, many sources address how an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would be bad for Israel (Beres 1993; Howard 2005; Devenny 2006 ...
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