Even nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel
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Myth 2: Iran is an existential threat to Israel.
This is a claim frequently accepted at face value in many American circles, but is vigorously debated in Israel. Israel is widely assessed to have several hundred nuclear bombs with the capability to deliver them anywhere in the region, and is demonstrably the region’s strongest and most capable military power. Admitting to this basic reality, Ephraim Halevy, former Mossad Director, noted, “I think Israel is strong enough to protect itself, to take care of itself. I think ultimately it is not in the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel.”12 Similarly, Dan Halutz, former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff, has concluded that “Iran poses a serious threat but not an existential one.”13
Busting both of these aforementioned myths allows policymakers and intelligence analysts to develop a more honest assessment of both the scale and urgency of any potential threat from Iran to either US or Israeli interests. For now, Iran is a middling regional military power with limited capability to threaten its neighbors. Furthermore, any Iranian attack on American or Israeli interests could be met quickly with a devastating blow from the superior conventional and unconventional military might of either the United States or Israel. A nuclear-armed Iran would change these calculations somewhat, but primarily by providing Iran a meaningful deterrent to a massive military intervention designed to overturn the regime in Tehran—something for which neither the American public nor the Obama administration would likely have any appetite.