Israel has no reason to launch a military strike against Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks as if Israel might try such a strike, to go after Iran’s nuclear facilities. In fact, Netanyahu has never intended to do so.

Israel has no reason to launch a military strike against Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks as if Israel might try such a strike, to go after Iran’s nuclear facilities. In fact, Netanyahu has never intended to do so.


Netanyahu knows that Iran would not use a nuclear bomb against Israel, even if Iran built one.


Israel’s own nuclear arsenal could inflict more damage on Iran than Iran could ever inflict on Israel. Israel has as many as 200 nuclear warheads ready to deploy as a second strike.


Iran is not as trigger-happy as Netanyahu would have one think. Iran’s slogans notwithstanding, Iran is not looking to remove Israel from the Middle East.


Even former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the fellow Netanyahu loved so much to hate, was clear that Iran would be happy with a peace agreement that might come out of Israeli-Palestinian talks.


Netanyahu’s castigation of Iran over a program that could lead to the development of nuclear weapons would ring truer if Israel itself were playing by the rules.


Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has. Israel will have nothing to do with the International Atomic Energy Agency.


It does not even acknowledge owning nuclear weapons.


Nuclear weapons are deemed useful to counter those possessed by opponents, so Israel’s own nuclear weaponry gives Iran an incentive to create a nuclear counter force.


For Netanyahu, portraying Israel as being under "existential threat" from Iran keeps money flowing to Israel from the open tap called the U.S. Congress. The more Netanyahu pretends to fear an Iranian nuclear strike, the more money he can wring from the U.S. taxpayer.


One of President Obama’s first phone calls after the July 14 nuclear deal with Iran was to Netanyahu. Obama then sent Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to Israel. U.S. and Israeli officials quietly explored new upticks in military aid for Israel.


Crying nuclear threat serves one other important purpose for Prime Minister Netanyahu. It gives a justification for a hard-line position against the Palestinians.


If Israel is under threat, taking more Palestinian territory via Israeli settlements makes sense in Netanyahu’s logic. It also diverts attention from Palestine’s current effort to have Israeli officials investigated at The Hague for international war crimes.


Netanyahu reminds one of the soothsayer who keeps predicting the end of the world.


In 1992, Netanyahu said that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within five years, and that the United States had to take the lead to stop Iran.


In a book he wrote in 1995, Netanyahu again gave five years as the outside time within which Iran would have a nuclear weapon. He did not remind his readers of his earlier prediction. In 2012, Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that Iran could have a bomb by the end of the following year.


None of Netanyahu’s predictions came true. But financial aid from the United States kept going up, as Republicans and Democrats vied to see who could give Israel more taxpayer money.


Of course, limiting nuclear weapons, whichever government wants or has them, is to the good.


The deal that Secretary of State John Kerry and the other major powers has worked out with Iran seems geared to keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, if that is or might become its aim in the future.


The July 14 deal makes it unlikely that Iran will be able to develop a nuclear weapon in the foreseeable future.


Nothing is forever in love and war, but in the real world a decade or two is as good as it gets.


If Netanyahu wants real security for Israel, he might think closer to home-like stopping settlement construction or coming to some reasonable deal with the Palestinians.


John B. Quigley is distinguished professor of law at The Ohio State University. Readers may write to him at Moritz College of Law, 55 West 12th St., Columbus, Ohio 43210. This essay is available to Tribune News Service subscribers. Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Tribune or its editors.


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(c)2015 John B. Quigley


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