What would the nuclear powers do if Iraq nuked Israel?

Let’s say that Saddam gets a hold of one nuke from some cash-strapped ex-Soviet state. They launch it at/drop it on/drive it into Tel Aviv.

What would the response of the US, the Europeans, the Russians, and the Chinese be? Would we be willing to escalate nuclear hostilities w/ a retaliatory nuke strike on Bagdhad over this local conflict (esp. if it seemed likely that Saddam did not have more nukes up his sleeve, nor the ability to strike US soil), or would we just trash Iraq with conventional weapons?

the rest of the world wouldn’t hae to do anything, except pick up the pieces. If the Iraqis attacks Israel by any non-conventional means, Israel will nuke their entire country back to the Early Paleolithic, as well as any nation that cares to ally itself with them.

In Israeli military parlence, it’s known as the “Smason Option”. Check the Book of Judges; you’ll get the reference.

Probably conventional weapons. Iraq has too much oil for the Western powers to render the place uninhabitable with radiation and fallout. If they intend on doing any sort of serious damage to Iraq as a political entity, they’d do it in a way that allows them to plunder the remains.

What would happen? The Israelis would, if at all possible, launch a nuclear or chemical (if they have chemical weapons) attack on Iraq, primarily Baghdad. The US and Britain, possibly with the support of France, Italy, Turkey and so on, would launch massive airstrikes on Iraq aimed at destroying any trace of NBC development and production facilities. The US, and possibly other nations, would redouble their efforts to “remove” the Iraqi leader. Russia would sit back and grumble a bit, but not too loud. The US would offer massive aid to Israel to rebuild, with some favourable trade options built in.

I’d look for small tactical nuclear warheads to be immediately dropped on the Republican Guard bases and other concentrations of Iraqi forces. Carpet bombing of all Saddam’s palaces. Then, an all-out invasion ending in a 50-year occupation. That’s by the US. Israel might very well nuke Baghdad, which I think would be an unfortunate reaction, but hey.

But throwing a nuke at Israel is not the sort of thing I think Saddam will do any time soon - though maybe in many years, when he sees his life coming to an end anyway, he might-could-possibly see a chance to immortalize himself as a Muslim hero by incinerating a city full of innocents. I should think that a biological release of some sort - anthrax, smallpox, etc - is much more likely, but I suspect we’ll see that happen in the USA first.

BTW, the Chinese wouldn’t do dick. They don’t give a damn what happens to Israel. And the Russians would do very little except sit in complete embarassment - especially if the fallout was tested and the bomb residue was determined to be Soviet. Ordinarily they would probably try to hassle the West about trying to invade Iraq, but if the bomb was made by them then they really wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

Taking the specific countries out of it, I expect the first country to use a nuclear warhead will be bombed out of existence.

Otherwise, there will be no deterent to stop future attacks.

the isrealies would shoot the nuke out of the sky:)

Freedom2, by your reasoning the right-thinking nations should have bombed the USA into gravel 40-odd years ago. Try again.

Everyone else, Israel has the capability to turn every Arab nation into a glowing parking lot. Its armed forces have the ability to take on all comers. If anyone tried to mess with Israel, they would be signing their death warrants and the death warrants of all future generations born on their land. Iraq might try it. Iraq might even succeed in nuking Tel Aviv. Iraq would under no circumstances survive Israel’s reprisals. Israel might be chastised for using nukes, but not too loudly and I doubt they would care anyway. After all, they had to survive the Yom Kippur War twice.

I’d have to say the Bye-Bye Baghdad scenario is the most likely. Doesn’t even matter if it were the U.S. or Israel that did the actual retaliation. No power can use nuclear weapons without the realization that they would be utterly destroyed, otherwise, what’s the point of having them?

Yeah, I’m with RTA on this. Although I couldn’t find it anywhere quickly and easily, I think that American NBC doctrine requires a response against any NBC attack against the U.S. and/or their allies. I’m pretty sure an attack against the U.S. requires a response in kind; in other words, a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack must be met with a nuclear, chemical, or biological retaliation.

Whether that applies to our allies, and whether the relationship between the U.S. and Israel can be interpreted as a formal military alliance is something I cannot answer. But, since many Israelis are also U.S. citizens, my guess would be that the U.S. would consider such an attack worthy of full retaliation under NBC rules.

An NBC response is not necessarily as shitty as it sounds at first. One possible first response could be the saturation of major population centers with the first part of a binary chemical weapon. Then, you let everyone know that they’re one crop-duster away from the Big Sleep, so let’s try to play along, shall we? On the other hand, since we claim to not want to use B or C’s under any circumstances, a nuclear retaliation of some sort may be our only option.

The U.S. NBC doctrine is really my nation’s best defense against such an attack. It is a promise that a first use of such weapons will result in a monumental clobbering guaranteed to permanently cripple the first offender and to make the next guy think twice about trying it again. It’s classic schoolyard bully “who’s gonna step forward first” tactics that happen to work exceptionally well on the playground that is the world stage.

While I have a lot of problems with our current President, I do not doubt for a minute that he would follow NBC doctrine to the letter (more closely, no doubt, than our previous President would have). If that doctrine dictates a response, the Iraqis are gonna wish they had been the Japanese in 1945.

First, that was a hydrogen bomb.:slight_smile:

Small but real difference.
Second, by your reasoning, another country would have had to HAVE HAD another hydrogen bomb.
Since no one else was equipped with an equal weapon, your point is moot and mine stands. You will also see by reading the thread [sub]yes, this one[/sub] that I am not the only one who thinks that this is what would happen.

Please try again.

OOOO good ! I get to play contrary Mary again:
It’s worth bearing in mind that a very significant proportion (perhaps a majority by now – but who’s counting ?) of the population of the State of Israel are Arabs. They might not have too many rights but they do share the same turf as the Jews and, one hopes, that would also discourage Saddam should he ever ………………Say, was there an election in Israel today ?
Curious that everyone in this thread accepts the answer to a theoretical attack by Saddam is to blow to kingdom come the people he most oppresses - i.e. the majority of the Iraqi people - while Saddam himself sits comfortably in his bunker.

Okay, so you are intending to make an example of the first one to use the big club so the other person with a big club does not use it. That makes sense. Retaliatory strikes are the only threat that kept the Cold War from exploding. However, that threat presupposes rationality on the part of your enemy. Not a safe thing to do with Iraq or the other Arab countries with strong religious support for the complete destruction of Israel.

No, we would launch against Iraq to prevent them from launching again. We would nuke Iraq to stop them from using NBC weapons against anyone else. Deter them? No, deterence has failed. We merely wish to destroy their ability to hurt others. Maybe other Arab nations would think twice, maybe not. We are prepared for the worst.

I think the entire premise is a non starter.As before, Israeli intellegence will result in a preemptive conventional strike.


I’m sure the first of many.

The first bombs dropped were atomic weapons, not hydrogen. Fission only. Little Boy, dropped on Hiroshima, was a gun-type uranium-235 weapon. Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki, was a plutonium implosion weapon. The first hydrogen bomb was the Mike shot during the Operation Ivy series of tests at the Eniwetok Atoll in 1952.


Also, I think Israel would probably nuke Baghdad or at least wherever Saddam is hiding (and they would know, and he wouldn’t be in Baghdad).

But even a medium sized nuke in Tel Aviv could make the whole region somewhat uninhabitable for a while. It is only like 50 miles from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and something like 80% of the population of Israel lives within 50 miles or so around Israel (in the strip of land by the Mediterranean from Haifa and down inland to Jerusalem). Bomb damage and fallout could seriously damage the region. It would definitely reduce Israel’s power in the region, and make it susceptible to attack from any one of a number of sources.

This is why I don’t see it as a very unlikely outcome. You can kill a lot of people with one nuke in that region. A sad but possible situation.

Israeli Arabs at last count account for 12% of the population of Israel. They are afforded all of the rights as any ordinary Israeli citizen (they hold Israeli citizenship). Whether they are treated equally in Israeli society is another matter, but they have equal rights under the law.

grienspace, could you please come up with a cite for a hypothetical event to occur in the future? I’ll give you 5 minutes.

Hmm. Well, what I’d do is laugh and say, “I told you so.” Then I’d start worrying about the Armageddonists (lunatic Fundies etc.).

As for the nuclear powers: I’m not sure, but I think it would be substantially the same as if Iraq conventionally bombed Israel, or any of its richer neighbors. Can you say, “Everybody make self-righteous noises and pile on the aggressor”?

I knew you could.

umm… That should be “laugh bitterly”. Enough people think I’m a callous inhuman anti-Semite already.

Er, more to the point, I see world war, if the entirety of the West ganging up on Iraq counts as world war.

But nuclear response? Probably not so much. There’s a lot of mileage in the self-righteousness of insisting that, “We are too civilised to use NBC weapons against a nation who is of little threat to us personally.” Nukes aren’t necessary; and to use them is to invite the comparison, “You’re as bad as they are!” Remember, there are significant anti-death-penalty movements in the Western nuclear powers. The same logic applies here.

I’m just considering the West. I doubt Russia has a functional missile left, and I have no real clue what China or India might do. But if I were the guy in Iraq making that decision, I’d consider these two things:
The West would almost certainly invade, Iraq would lose sovereignty, and I and/or much of my family would quite probably die in the invasion. (And/or be charged with war crimes.)
India and Pakistan are pretty close by, and aren’t going to like a terrorist state in their region, with nuclear missile capability. What would their response be?

Of course, in any case, a lot may depend on what Israel would do first–being the injured party and all. Of course, if Israel were wiped out, then I imagine Iraq’s government would suddenly discover it had no friends.

Not even the Islamist/Arab states would fully back up somone who just killed off the entire population of Palestine. And a nuke that big would affect more than just the Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine, which is one big reason never to try it.

That’s my 21 shillings.