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Iran’s Rationale

Israel, Ma'ariv

By Ehud Eilam


Ultimately, checking the rational aspect as to the questions why Iran wants a nuclear weapon and also, at a time when it doesn’t have one, in which way it may use force, will help to understand Iran’s rationale. 


Translated by Viktoria Lymar

Edited by Steven Stenzler


25 May 2012 



There exists an ideological rationale in Tehran to annihilate the Zionists. The question is what happens if the first attack comes from Israel.


In Israel, there is a concern over Iran primarily if it produces nuclear weapons. In this light, [we] could examine Iran’s rationale until it lays its hand on this arsenal. 

Why does Iran need a nuclear weapon? Iran feels challenged against the surrounding states, like those nuclear-armed: Pakistan, Iran’s neighbor from the East – a Muslim country like Iran, nonetheless, a Sunni one and not Shiite as are most of the Iranians. From the north of Iran, there lies another nuclear state: Russia, predominantly Christian, with which Iran has common interest but factors of friction as well. 

There’s also, of course, the United States, whose army is deployed at the bases in close proximity to Iran, like in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. Iran feels especially threatened by the United States because of the Israeli pressure on the administration, leading to its willingness to deal with the Iranians, even if we’re not talking a military path so far. 

From the Iranian perspective, Israel is a dwarf with regard to the country’s size, population and natural resources. Nevertheless, Israel, according to non-Israeli sources, possesses nuclear weapons – which imparts it a decisive edge, certainly a military one.

Iran is aiming to boost its influence throughout the Middle East which requires struggle with the Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Israel is standing on Iran’s way, too – mainly, as concerns the Levant region. The combination between Israel’s location and its might urges Iran to obtain the capability of producing nuclear arms – even if not the bomb itself. This is a basic strategic rationale, chiefly for a country like Iran viewing itself as a rising power.


Military Response Expected


Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, declared that Israel is a cancer. Meaning, beyond Iran’s strategic vision apropos Israel, Tehran has ideological rationale to demolish Israel. Nuclear weapons would give Iran a “cure” for the “cancer.” However, the assumption is that Israel is developing the “second strike” ability that would allow it to deal a devastating nuclear blow in response even after an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel. Iran's "remedy" is therefore going to cost it dearly, and it could be that even if the nuclear weapon is acquired, the country will actually see in Israel less a cancer and more a chronic pain, but a tolerable one because an attempt to get rid of it would be too dangerous. 

Should an Israeli strike on the nuclear infrastructure of Iran occur, the latter is likely to react in a number of familiar military ways, and first off, firing surface-to-surface missiles. Iraq proceeded in a similar manner in 1991 – among other things, as a revenge for the destruction of the nuclear reactor in 1981. Iran might also activate Hezbollah, with tens of thousands of its rockets and missiles, against Israel.

In sum total, if a confrontation starting from an Israeli offensive on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure takes place, [we] will be able to test Ahmedinejad’s rationality when he doesn’t have nuclear weapons in his hands. This is going to be Iran’s additional motive to attain such ammunition, even if only to increase the freedom of action during using Hezbollah against Israel. 

Ultimately, checking the rational aspect as to the questions why Iran wants a nuclear weapon and also, at a time it doesn’t have one, in which way it may use force, will help to understand Iran’s rationale. This rationale could change as the process progresses to its completion – installation of a nuclear bomb on a missile capable of reaching Israel.


Original Hebrew article: