The president reminded us we contained a nuclear USSR with a strategy of mutually assured destruction (MAD); and – even before the Joint Chiefs of Staff defined Iran as “rational actors” – he suggested we can similarly contain a nuclear Iran.
Current stated policy regards an Iran with nuclear weapons as unacceptable, and “all options – including force – being on the table” for preventing it. Tactics for prevention are primarily sanctions, diplomacy and negotiations that up until now seem not to have worked.
MAD is not a viable strategy for Israel’s survival. Because of relative size and population, Iran can absorb far more destruction. Knowledgeable people suggest two nuclear detonations can completely destroy Israel. One may say – in the spirit of MAD – Iran knows if they strike Israel, the United States will launch a massive retaliatory nuclear strike against Iran. Would that matter to Israel’s survival? No. Can Israel allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons?
My point is: Faced with the prospect of a nuclear Iran, Israel’s strategic goal of survival is best served by a tactical pre-emptive strike. The question is whether the pre-emptive strike is conventional or nuclear.