Ominously, Iran now hints at its presumed right to attack Israel first, in permissible self-defense.
In essence, therefore, Iran is now threatening to preempt an Israeli preemption.
All things considered, as Benjamin Netanyahu stated once again last year at the United Nations, Israel could soon have little choice but to actually fulfill Iran’s contrived warnings. Such an authentically lawful preemption, assuredly non-nuclear, will have been mandated by the Tehran-induced strategic spiral of “escalation dominance.” Though it is reasonable to assume that Israel’s multiple and inter-penetrating ballistic missile defenses could afford some meaningful levels of protection from incoming Iranian nuclear warheads, this system would inevitably have significant “leakage.”
When dealing with nuclear weapons, even the most limited failure to intercept could yield intolerable harms.
Facing full-blown Arab attacks in June 1967, the Jewish state opted to strike first. From the standpoint of international law, this preemption against enemy military targets was a textbook example of anticipatory self-defense.
(Continued Next Week)
About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.
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