For some reason Iran believes once it’s test-exploded a nuclear weapon it’s game over for Israel, and the USA and allies will just have to roll over and agree with whatever the newly empowered “Peacock” regime wants to do.
I’ve never understood this. (Nor indeed have I ever understood the arguments for the nuclear disarmament.) It takes a long time to move from a making a big bang underground, to creating a bomb small and reliable enough to put inside a rocket, that will explode at exactly the right height over a city even assuming it’s not detected in flight and destroyed on the way in.
To risk a pre-emptive strike, you have to be quite sure that your rocket is going to get there and do its job, otherwise your ludicrously dangerous gamble in actually launching fails abysmally; not unlike going all-in at a poker table while holding a pair of say nines….
And “Second strike capability” is easy to achieve against a country like Iran which would only have a few relatively short range nuclear rockets – once its missile (or missiles) explode. In any case, the USA will certainly strike back if Israel is attacked, and nobody Russia included can do anything to threaten the USA’s second strike capability. In any case, Israel is well equipped with protective bunkers and hardened command communications. If your enemy can see that it’s not going to be Armageddon for you and you can strike back with nuclear weapons, they won’t strike you first with theirs.
It’s the “usability” of nuclear weapons that gives them true deterrence value. If you have very precise nuclear weapons that can be very accurately targeted – and with multiple re-entry vehicle (MRRV) bombs of limited explosive yield capable of taking out several targets from the one rocket, you can make strikes that don’t have to kill thousands or destroy cities. “Going nuclear” is certainly a very serious escalation, but it’s graduated – and can be carefully calculated.
Whereas nuclear nations like Iran with it’s newly developed hanger-full of untested rocketry, leave themselves wide open for the sort of attacks Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies has recently simulated as part of practicing the aftermath of an Iranian nuclear strike.
The journalist who reported this for the FT from Jerusalem Tobias Buck, writes that this “runs counter to the widely held view that countries in possession of a nuclear weapon are largely immune to attack, because of the fear that a strike could trigger a nuclear conflict with devastating consequences.”
SO, Iran may want to believe this – along with North Korea I’d imagine, but nobody else does. Iran’s greatest card is its threat of filling the Persian Gulf with mines, so oil tankers can no longer get in and out. The USA is developing its own oil resources against this threat.
But when it comes to the possibility of Israel being obliterated by Iranian nuclear weapons once Iran manages to get one ‘weaponised’ and mounted into a viable rocket, the Jewish vote in the USA will ensure that the opposite will in fact be true. Obtaining viable nuclear weapons puts Iran into far more very real danger than it’s in at present.
In fact, without nuclear weapons, Iran can call the tune in the Gulf – as the USA would never use nuclear weapons were Iran to make the Gulf impassable for tankers – thus directly threatening the US economy.
But once Iran definitely owns usable nuclear weapons, its threat to blockade the Gulf turns into something very different. Floating for example nuclear mines into the Strait of Hormuz – which would be a splendid terrorist act of great bravado for Iran, but give the USA the golden opportunity to use nuclear weapons and deep penetrator missiles on Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. Their proximity to the holy city of Qom would certainly not be considered a limiting factor in this instance…. Exit Iran from the poker game….