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Israel and Iran: The Grounds for an Israeli Attack

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
May/June 2012
World Affairs Journal


A broad international coalition agrees that Iran must freeze its nuclear weapons program and may not develop either of the ingredients—sufficient highly enriched uranium and a usable warhead and delivery system—that could result in a bomb for the Islamic Republic. The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors, the UN Security Council, and the governments of almost every influential country—including the United States, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, and France, acting as the P5+1 negotiating group—have not only reached consensus on this demand but acted upon it. Increasingly tough sanctions have been imposed on Iran to force it to stop what is obviously a military program aimed at building a usable nuclear weapon. These diplomatic steps and these tightened sanctions reflect a wide consensus about the dangers that an Iranian nuclear weapon would bring.

But those dangers, ranging from the risk of further proliferation to the likelihood that a nuclear Iran would be an even bolder supporter of terrorism, do not affect all nations equally. In fact, they are a matter of principle but not much of a danger to many countries, while of much greater interest to Iran's immediate neighbors and to the United States. And then there is Israel. The dangers it faces from an Iranian nuclear weapon are unique and, I will argue, are dangers no nation should be asked to accept.

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