By Yoram Getzler With the intense focus on a nuclearized Middle-East propelled by developments and threats by Iran aimed at Israel, it seems to me that at this point it would be in Israel’s interest to consider foregoing its development, possession and the accompanying defense of nuclear weapons, and close its nuclear weapon facilities. To add too the timing is the recently publicized revelation that our Dimona nuclear facility is, at age forty, in desperate need of an expensive rebuilding project to insure its safety….
After all, what could we do with a nuclear weapon that will damage us as well as our enemy? Would an Atomic bomb detonated over Cairo or Amman or Damascus not effect Israel? (of what use is a weapon that would also cause considerable harm to its user?)
During the past six months I have been keeping track via the nightly weather reports, with their visual display of the wind patterns in the area. There seems to be reoccurring movements.
The wind comes from the East (Syria/Jordan/Iraq/Iran) over Israel, then turns south toward Egypt. Sometimes it moves as far north as Lebanon before making the southward turn. A day or two later the wind is coming from the Mediterranean and heading east. In other words there are only a few Arab targets that would not result in our receiving back what we sent out in the form of radioactive fallout.
Let us remember the insight proclaimed by Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, The Jews love life, the Muslims loves martyrdom! In other words we can not be sure that our Iranian and Arab enemies and neighbors are not so afraid of dying that our threat of a nuclear response would deter them from attacking us.
As a matter of record, on December 2001, speaking to Iranian students one of the most influential leaders in Iran, the former president of Iran and the head of its Revolutionary Council, Hashemi Rafsanjani, explained to his people and the wider Islamic world that only one or two Atomic bombs would be enough to erase the entire state of Israel and its Jews from the map, while the one or two Atomic bombs Israel might succeed in launching would hardly damage the more than one billion strong Muslim community.
We must seriously reevaluate the assumption that our possession of nuclear weapons is actually a deterrent to our hostile neighbors.
Our own willingness to use of these weapons is also open to question. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, on October 12 1973 a few days after the beginning of the Yom Kippur War, with the Egyptian army consolidating its position on the Eastern side of the Suez Canal Israel found itself in a most difficult situation.” On the Suez front, Israeli forces faced the threat of a concentrated Egyptian offensive. On the Golan Heights, the IDF’s counter-offensive had exhausted its initial momentum without having forced the Syrians to stop firing (Haaretz Sept 17 1999) At that existential moment rather than threatening or using our assumed nuclear arsenal, according to Ariel Sharon, the proposal was made to surrender to the Egyptians. So, when is our vaulted nuclear option to be used? It would seem that at that moment we already lost their deterrent value by signaling our hesitancy/unwillingness to use the ultimate weapon at our most desperate moment.
And if we were to actually utilize and explode the ultimate weapon, what would be our position in the world in the aftermath of such a horrendous act. No government, certainly not that of Israel or of any other country (with the exception of perhaps Iran) can possibly seriously contemplate nuclear mass murder in our modern world. The ecological consequences alone would bring total isolation and disaster to Israel.
We have everything to gain and nothing to loose were we to relinquish our nuclear capacity and secrecy. Were we to renounce our nuclear capability and weapons and invite international inspection we would be making a powerful statement that might echo forcefully in the international arena and contribute an influential voice to the planetary nuclear disarmament discussion.
The potential ethical moral implications of such an act would be enormous. As an added bonus , we would free ourselves from the dilemmas associated with nuclear weapons possession. I would imagine that considerable financial savings could also be made. Economic savings that could be used far more effectively in the struggle for our physical security. Whether in expanding educational opportunities or in proceeding with the many long term military projects canceled due to lack of funds.