On Monday, the Washington Post’s Max Fisher asked the big question about nuclear development in the Middle East that has troubled so many Americans lately: why does Israel have nuclear weapons? If you were more worried about Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, given their stated desire to destroy the state of Israel, you’ve been focusing your attention in the wrong direction, according to Fisher. After all, he writes, it’s Israel’s fault that Iran wants to go nuclear: “ironically, Israel’s nuclear arsenal may itself be one of the factors driving Iran’s program in the first place.”
Fisher traces the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal, stating that Iran might “have a point” about Israel having a nuclear monopoly in the region. “Is there something hypocritical about the world tolerating Israel's nuclear arsenal, which the country does not officially acknowledge but has been publicly known for decades, and yet punishing Iran with severe economic sanctions just for its suspected steps toward a weapons program?” Fisher asks. “Even Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as its implacable enemy and made its accommodations with Israel long ago, often joins Tehran's calls for a ‘nuclear-free region.’ And anyone not closely versed in Middle East issues might naturally wonder why the United States would accept Israeli warheads but not an Iranian program.”
Fisher calls Israel’s development of nuclear arms a move based on “obsessive fear,” not on reasonable self-interest. He also writes that today, since Israel has conventional arms superiority, it might as well give up the nuclear program. “Israel's conventional military forces are now far more powerful than all of its neighbors' militaries combined. Anyway, those neighbors have made peace with Israel save Syria, which has held out mostly for political reasons.”
Fisher says that now that President Obama has cut a deal with the Iranians, Israel should no longer fear the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon: “From Israel's view, there is only one potentially existential military threat left: the Iranian nuclear program. But that program has not produced a warhead and, with Tehran now seeking to reach an agreement on the program, it may never.”
Only the delusional left would suggest that Israel, awash in enemies and at a tremendous numerical disadvantage against its neighbors, should give up its nuclear deterrent. But that’s why the Washington Post is there.