Evaluating the costs and benefits of bombing Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

Dan Murphy has written two excellent pieces in the Christian Science Monitor which concisely sum up the Israeli rationale for considering an attack on alleged Iranian nuclear facilities and the devastating consequences that such an attack would bring.

Interestingly, the list of reasons the Israel might launch such an attack appear nearly identical to the rationales presented by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in his recent cover story on the possibility of an Israeli or U.S. strike, but the consequences, as clearly discussed by Murphy, were largely glossed over or simply ignored in Goldberg’s article.

In the first article, Murphy outlines the reasons that Israel might want to strike alleged Iranian nuclear sites as:

1.) A nuclear weapons possessing Iran would tilt the regional strategic balance and a nuclear arms race between countries which are hostile to Israel’s existence.

2.)Fear that a nuclear Iran would behave irrationally and launch a preemptive attack or arm a terrorist group.

3.) A “never again” credo in the Israeli security establishment which takes Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust-denying statements as a threat to Israel’s survival.

All of the reasons given by Murphy, whether shared by the reader or not, are believable explanations of why Israeli leadership is concerned about the possibility of a nuclear weapons possessing Iran. Indeed, it is hard to find many voices in the Middle East or anywhere in the world that are in favor of Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons. But, as Murphy emphasizes in his article, “3 Reasons Israel Won’t Bomb Iran,” the costs of Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities are overwhelmingly high.

Murphy summarizes three reasons that Israel won’t bomb Iran as:

1.) U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would be at put at risk as regional anger with the U.S. and Israel would grow tremendously and Israel might find itself the target of attacks by Iran’s allies.

2.) An attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay the arrival of “breakout capacity” and mobilize Iranian public support behind acquiring a nuclear weapon.

3.) The actual execution of a strike on Iranian nuclear sites would severely test the capabilities of the Israeli air force and might impose unacceptable risks on the Israeli air force.

Murphy’s articles are valuable in that they openly discuss the ideological and political motivations for an Israeli attack on alleged Iranian nuclear weapons facilities without disregarding the realpolitik of a successful, or unsuccessful, strike.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.


One Comment

  1. “3.) A “never again” credo in the Israeli security establishment which takes Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust-denying statements as a threat to Israel’s survival.” I’m not sure this is accurate. I’ve heard, so often it’s nauseating statements conflated, inflated and twisted from reality. I’ve certainly heard Ahmadinejad question why Palestinians should pay for the sins of Germany. How that “denies” the holocaust is beyond me. Hell, to question the assertion of the number of Holocaust victims who were “gassed” versus starved to death or shot is not “denial” either. Saying that no Jews were persecuted, arrested, stripped of their belongings, starved to suffer helpless and hopeless death is holocaust denial. I’ve never heard anyone say that frankly. I’ve heard those who point out that Gays, Gypsies and others were also persecuted declared Holocaust deniers. I’ve heard Holocaust promoters reject the Armenian genocide for petty jealousy. Finally, it seems the most complete and terrible Holocaust of all was perpetrated by the USA against the native inhabitants of this land.

    I’ve heard rumors and slips that the Saudis have the bomb already. They have the absolute leverage, and had the trust of Bush regime to be able to quietly attain such weapons.

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