Israel's Nuclear Dilemma
by Yair Evron
Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994. 327 pp. $39.95.
Reviewed by David Rodman
Middle East Quarterly
Some sources claim that Israel has about two hundred nuclear weapons. Others cite figures closer to fifty. Yet others suggest that while the Jewish state has the scientific and industrial capability to build the bomb, it has not actually done so. These wildly different estimates stem from the complete absence of reliable data on the status of Israel's nuclear arsenal hasn't inhibited scholars and journalists from producing a mountain of (mainly unreliable) literature on the topic, with much of it serving a specific political agenda.
Evron, an Israeli scholar, has written one of the more sober and informed accounts, though he, too, has an agenda. Indeed, the book appears aimed primarily at countering the arguments of strategic analysts like Shai Feldman and Shlomo Aronson, who assert that Israel should base its national security on nuclear weapons. Grounding his views in both the Jewish state's history and the basic logic of nuclear deterrence, Evron concludes that such a strategy would most likely undermine Israel's security by triggering widespread nuclear proliferation in a very unstable region.
That's not to say that Evron is entirely against an Israeli nuclear arsenal. In fact, he seems content with Israel's current posture of "a bomb in the basement." He notes that such an undeclared bomb that is widely presumed to exist has helped to sustain the flow of American assistance; impeded Arab attempts to acquire nuclear weapons; and deterred threats to the state's very existence.
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism | David Rodman | March 1995 MEQ
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