Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

The Armageddon Scenario:: Israel and the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism

Chuck Freilich
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2010
Pages: 38

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. (pp. [i]-[ii])
  2. (pp. [iii]-[iv])
  3. (pp. 1-2)
    Chuck Freilich

    For the past 15 years, Israel's focus on the Iranian nuclear program has been nearly all-encompassing, eclipsing virtually all other threats. A nuclear Iran would undoubtedly pose a severe threat to Israel, indeed, possibly even an existential one. The preoccupation with Iran, however, may have distracted Israel from another threat, one which may be no less likely and actually far more difficult to counter; nuclear terrorism.

    Experts and policymakers are divided on the probability of nuclear terrorism, much as they are on the likelihood of Iran using nuclear weapons, should it succeed in attaining them. On one issue, however, they...

  4. (pp. 3-5)

    According to reports since 2003, the threat of nuclear terrorism is growing. For example, the 2003 US National Strategy for Combating Terrorism warned that the risk of nuclear terrorism has increased significantly and that it posed one of the greatest threats to the national security of the US and its allies. The 2006 report stressed that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism poses one of the gravest threats. The 2008 report of the Congressionally appointed Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism warned that the danger of nuclear terrorism is growing and, in the absence...

  5. (pp. 6-16)

    The Middle East is a demographic, socio-economic, political, and military time bomb waiting to explode. Even before the recent global economic crisis, unemployment in Arab countries was the highest in the world, including among young people. Economic growth in the Middle East is likely to remain stagnant, with the region falling further behind the rest of the world. When combined with the highly combustible winds of religious fundamentalism, the danger of nuclear terrorism is particularly acute in this region.23

    There is little reason to believe that regional governments will permit political reform and greater self-expression, and political grievances will likely...

  6. (pp. 17-22)

    The danger of nuclear terrorism faced by Israel is real and may be manifested in a variety of scenarios and by various means. The following section explores the options at Israel's disposal for attempting to deal with this grave threat. It begins with Israel's policy options, before turning to those which could be conducted in cooperation or even in conjunction with the United States.

    Other studies have presented the operational means by which a country could seek to prevent the emergence of a nuclear terrorist threat, including intelligence, interdiction, and various offensive and defensive measures. There is no need to...

  7. (pp. 23-29)

    As with so many other areas of Israeli national security policy, cooperation with the US is high on the list of options available for dealing with the threat of nuclear terrorism. For the US, the potentially devastating impact on a close ally, as well as the horrific precedent which would lower the bar for similar attacks against the US and other allies, warrants the broad cooperation outlined here. In this case, however, even the US could not provide a fully satisfactory answer to the threat it faces or that Israel faces. From the public record, it is not clear if...

  8. (pp. 30-31)

    For the past 15 years Israel has been focused first and foremost on the Iranian nuclear threat, while Palestinian and Hizballah terrorism has absorbed much of the national military and civilian leadership's remaining attention. While understandable, this focus may have come at the expense of the attention afforded to the rising and potentially even graver threat of nuclear terrorism. This study is the first to examine the nature of the nuclear threat Israel faces and to propose potential responses to it. As such, it is hoped that it will inspire other scholars and, even more importantly, government officials charged with...

  9. (pp. 32-34)