08 April '10
EXECUTIVE SUMMERY: The Iranian nuclear threat has obscured the possibility of waging nuclear terrorism against Israel. There is a clear rationale for employing nuclear terrorism and countering it needs calibrated policies of prevention and possibly US-Israeli cooperation. The time to prepare for the Armageddon scenario is now.
For the past 15 years, Israel's focus on the Iranian nuclear threat has been nearly all-encompassing, eclipsing virtually all other threats. While understandable, this preoccupation may have distracted Israel from a threat which may be no less likely and actually far more dangerous; nuclear terrorism. Unlike "traditional" terrorism, nuclear terrorism poses a catastrophic threat to the state.
Moreover, those most likely to conduct nuclear terrorism (al-Qaeda, Hizballah, Hamas, Iran, and others) may be fundamentally nihilistic and thus undeterrable. As millennial movements who believe that Israel's destruction is a sacred mission, they may view a nuclear attack, even assuming a devastating Israeli response, to be a worthy means of ushering in a messianic era.
A nuclear terrorist threat against Israel might be designed for:
Actual Use – to deal Israel a devastating blow
Deterrence – to counter Israel's conventional superiority and purported nuclear capability, to deter Israeli attacks, or to conduct attacks with relative impunity
Compellence – to exert a decisive influence on Israeli decision making during crises or over fundamental issues, holding it hostage by the threat of an attack
Weakening – to severely erode Israel's national resilience due to the ongoing need to live in the shadow of nuclear terrorism
Back Up – to strengthen the deterrent value of a state-based (Iranian or Syrian) capability
Decapitation – to remove the Israeli political and/or military leadership
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