June 06, 2012

Risk and Rivalry: Iran, Israel and the Bomb

By Colin H. Kahl, Matthew Irvine and Melissa Dalton

As Iran's nuclear progress continues and negotiations fail to reach a breakthrough, the threat of an Israeli preventive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities grows. In Risk and Rivalry: Israel, Iran and the Bomb, authors Dr. Colin H. Kahl, Melissa G. Dalton and Matthew Irvine argue that despite the abhorrent threats by some Iranian leaders to "wipe Israel off the map," the actual behavior of the Islamic Republic over the past three decades indicates that the regime is not suicidal and is sufficiently rational for nuclear deterrence. The report finds that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a much more dangerous adversary but that Iran is unlikely to deliberately use nuclear weapons, or transfer a nuclear device to terrorists to use, against Israel. The authors recommend that while preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons should remain an urgent priority, rushing into preventive war would risk making the threat worse and force should be seen as a last resort. 

Authors

  • Colin H. Kahl

    Middle East Security

    Dr. Colin H. Kahl is an associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the former National Securi...

  • Matthew Irvine

  • Melissa Dalton

  • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • November 7, 2019
    Trump Needs to Reestablish Deterrence with Iran

    The attack attributed to Iran on Saudi Aramco oil facilities is the latest in a series of Iranian escalations—the May 14 and June 13 tanker attacks, the June 20 downing of a U...

    By Kaleigh Thomas & Elisa Catalano Ewers

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • September 25, 2019
    Trump’s Iran Policy Is a Failure

    This month’s attack on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities marked a stunning escalation of tensions in the Middle East. The scale, sophistication, and accuracy of the strikes all ...

    By Ilan Goldenberg & Kaleigh Thomas

  • Commentary
    • The Atlantic
    • September 23, 2019
    The Most Dangerous Moment of the Trump Presidency

    For all of the uncertainty of the Trump administration’s nearly three years in power, genuine international crises have been rare. That’s changing right now. The attack a week...

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Podcast
    • August 2, 2019
    Ilan Goldenberg on Iran, Europe, and the United States

    CNAS Senior Fellow and Middle East Security Program Director Ilan Goldenberg joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend for an in-depth look at the current situation in the ...

    By Ilan Goldenberg, Andrea Kendall-Taylor & Jim Townsend

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia