08 December 2011

Avner Cohen: Israel’s Iran dilemma

In a recent opinion piece in the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz, Avner Cohen, Professor of Non-Proliferation studies and senior fellow with the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and author of two authoritative histories of the Israeli nuclear program (see below), writes that recent statements by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on the Iranian nuclear issue only drove home the need for a real public debate on the subject.

The essence of Cohen’s piece, an edited version of a lecture he gave at the Monterey Institute’s Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, is to be found in his last two paragraphs:

The idea of an independent Israeli attack at this time on the nuclear facilities in Iran is both irrational and megalomaniacal. If somebody thinks that Israeli military might can in itself put an end to the ayatollahs' nuclear ambitions, he is daydreaming. Just as the destruction of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 only bolstered Saddam's desire for the bomb, so a military operation against Iran would only strengthen the rule of the ayatollahs and their desire for nuclear weapons.

In the final analysis, only a renewed peace process, on both bilateral (Israeli-Palestinian ) and multilateral (Israeli-Arab ) tracks, a process that would include also delegitimization of nuclear weapons, all nuclear weapons, can ultimately remove the nuclear threat from the Middle East.

The full opinion piece may be accessed here.

The video of the lecture on which it is based may be accessed here.

Avner Cohen is the author of two important books on the Israeli nuclear program, both published by Columbia University Press:

- Israel and the Bomb (1998) – more information here
- The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb – more information here

No comments: