IDF Chief not Convinced that Iran will Pursue a Nuclear Bomb

Via HaaretzIDF chief to Haaretz: I do not believe Iran will decide to develop nuclear weapons

Iran, [Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny] Gantz says, "is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile."

As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, "the program is too vulnerable, in Iran’s view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous."

Emphasis mine.

Given that the head of the Israeli Defense Forces cannot be accused of being a soft-headed liberal or someone unconcerned about the defense of Israel.  Perhaps this will give those who are near hysterical about Iran will read the above and take a deep breath?  (Ok, a man can hope).

At a minimum:  note that the head of IDF is stating that Iranian leadership consists of rational actors.

This is not to say that the issue is not a serious one.  However, it matters in terms of policy (and general evaluation of the situation) as to whether we should view Iran as a bunch of crazies or not.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. al-Ameda says:

    I wonder if Republicans will insist that the Israeli Defense Forces, like President Obama, is ‘soft on Iran’?

  2. James in LA says:

    The word “rational” is awfully squishy here.

  3. Hey Norm says:

    Issues in our election this November for me are:
    Foreign Policy
    Supreme Court make/up
    I do not see Romney and the neo-cons and Bush re-treads he is surrounding himself with being able to seriously consider alternative viewpoints like that described above. And Romney…being uber-ambitious and infinitely malleable…will not be able to dictate policy to that group. George43 could not say no to Dick. Look where that led us. Republican establishment types are already describing Romney as just a warm body to hold the pen.
    Something else I thought about last night…a war with Iran is not going to be like Iraq. We will need to institute a draft in order to wage that war. We won’t be able to fight that fight with indefinite deployments. Is Romney willing to commit to a draft along with his hard-line against Iran? I bet no. Not before the election.

  4. @James in LA:

    The word “rational” is awfully squishy here.

    I think he means rational in the economic sense, that is, when an actor chooses a particular goal, they are rational if they choose the least costly means of pursuing it, regardless of whether that particular goal is a good idea or not.

    In Iran’s case, while I would think most people here disagrees with the goals of their current government, nuking Israel is not a particularly good way of achieving them, as the resulting retaliation would be incredibly costly.

  5. @Hey Norm:

    I think my priority list is the same as yours, but on item 2, I don’t think either Romney or Obama is a good choice. Romeny’s picks would want to weaken my first, ninth, and 14th ammendment rights in the name of a social conservative agenda. Obama’s picks would seek to weaken my first (in the realm of political speech) and second ammendment rights. Both’s picks would weaken fourth and fifth ammendment rights in the name of the security state.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    “…Obama’s picks would seek to weaken my first (in the realm of political speech) and second ammendment rights…”

    In what way? How have Kagan or Sotomayer done that?
    I’m interested in your response.
    I have to say though that the NRA stand that Obama, if re-elected, will suddenly become a radical lefty, instead of the centrist he has been for his entire career, is dubious to say the least.

  7. @Hey Norm:

    Their rulings on District of Columbia v. Heller, and MacDonald v. Chicago. And I don’t think Obama is going to suddenly becoming a radical lefty, but when every one one of the liberal justices voted lockstep that a total ban on firearm ownership is constitutional, I’d be a fool to want another Obama nominated justice, especially when replacing even one of the conservatives would be enough to eliminate protection of that right in the federal courts.

  8. anjin-san says:

    George43 could not say no to Dick

    A repeat of this, is of course a big concern with Romney.

    The sad thing with GW was that there were a lot of talented people from his fathers crew who could have helped him with foreign policy, but he was too stubborn to see it. GHW & Brent Scowcroft did a better job of planning for a war with Iraq in a few hours of boating off the coast of Main than all of 41s people did put together over a period of years.