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Issues of the Day The Iranian Bomb and Global Zero

Ari Shavit, a respected senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz presented an interview with commentary in the newspaper’s weekend magazine that sheds light on the potential effects of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Citing a highly authoritative military insider, the contention is made that by launching an advance strike against Tehran’s nuclear installations Israel would effectively end the  deterrence option believed to be holding back that regime from proceeding full force with its plans to build atomic weapons.

Last week’s talks in Moscow between the Western powers and Iran have been characterized as failed.  Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s notion that Iran’s military will soon achieve a “zone of immunity” when its nuclear facilities will be impenetrable to Israel’s weapons may indeed be fast approaching. While Barak and other cabinet ministers are pressing for a first-strike by Israel, US President Barak Obama, who seems earnestly committed to stopping Iran from going nuclear, believes there is still time to wait for sanctions and diplomacy to kick in and that American intelligence can sound warning bells in time for a US bunker-busting bombs to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons progression.  

Israel is particularly vulnerable to an Iranian bomb, given the Islamic Republic’s unwavering commitment to  its destruction. However, the ease with which an a nuclear weapon can be obtained or made by state and nonstate actors places all parties, those involved in conflicts as well as those who are not, at risk – wherever they reside. Further, the destruction of such weapons is not confined to their immediate effects; they can easily lead to greater destabilization and warfare.

The catastrophic effects of  nuclear arms makes their very presence in the arsenals of even the most stable regimes a danger to the whole of humanity. Israel, which is widely assumed to have nuclear weapons, is committed to not being the first to introduce them into the Middle East conflict. Iran expresses no such inhibition.


Given the threats that Israel faces, it cannot be the first to renounce and dismantle its nuclear weapons. Israelis can, however, add their  voices to the initiative known as Global Zero,  “the international movement for the elimination of all nuclear weapons,”  which was launched in 2008 and includes among its supporters an impressive list of some of the world’s best known statesmen and women and military leaders. Among them is Amb. Efraim Halevy, former director of the Mossad and National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In a world of increasing might and unrest, beating swords into plowshares is imperative. Stopping nuclear proliferation, once so central in public consciousness, must be renewed with vigor and advanced as a central concern of all who are concerned about a global future.     

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved