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December 23, 2009
Five reasons why containing a nuclear Iran won't work
Writing in Foreign Policy, Robert J Leiber and Amatzia Baram argue that containment of a nuclear armed Iran would be far harder than the proponents of that policy argue
In reality, defusing an Israeli-Iranian nuclear standoff will be far more difficult than averting nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. This is true even if those Iranians with their fingers on the nuclear trigger are not given to messianic doomsday thinking.
Comparing and contrasting the situation we faced with Russian missiles in Cuba, the authors list "five factors that will make an Israeli-Iranian nuclear confrontation potentially explosive" in contrast to those we faced respecting the Cuban crisis: the lack of "communication and trust" between Israel and Iran; the different goals the USSR then and Iran now; the differences in mutual deterrence (Israel being so much smaller and vulnerable) than Iran; the different command and control capacity of the USSR then, and Iran today; the crisis instability which the authors argue would encourage Iran to launch a preemptive first strike at Israel's densely populated urban centers.