Further Sorting out Which Nuclear States and Terror Groups Pose the Biggest Threats
June 2007

Stanley Foundation director of Policy Analysis and Dialogue Michael Kraig responds to readers’ comments and questions posted in response to his Op-Ed published in The Des Moines Register on May 7, 2007.

It is correct that the presence of Israeli nuclear weapons is not favored by any of Israel’s immediate neighbors. Take for example the stance of Turkey, a state that straddles almost the entire Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria in the West to Iran in the East and Southeast. Turkey attempts to foster “normal” or “correct” relations with all of its neighbors. Indeed, Turkey is the only Mideast state to initiate a formal alliance with Israel that allows Israeli fighter-bomber exercises from its bases.

Yet even Turkey is uneasy with Israel’s nuclear status. During my trip to Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, in January 2005, I was given the official Turkish diplomatic talking points on the issue of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and although the point was subtle, it was nonetheless clear: Turkey did not favor any country in its vicinity having nuclear weapons—although neither Iran nor Israel were mentioned by name. Later that day, I spoke with a senior former diplomat who had a bit more freedom to speak frankly, and he was unequivocal in his view that as long as Israel had nuclear weapons, then Arab states or Iran would also attempt to acquire this capability. And arguably, tensions between Iran and Israel are exacerbated at the state-to-state, or “strategic” level, by Israel’s latent nuclear threats to Tehran, just as Iran presents a very real sub-strategic threat to Israel via support for anti-Israeli militant groups at the transnational level.

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This page is part of Rising Powers: The New Global Reality, a project from the Stanley Foundation.