Last updated on: 4/3/2015 3:20:22 PM PST

Is Israel's Existence Threatened by Iran's Nuclear Program?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Barack Obama, US President, in an Aug. 8, 2014 interview with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, in response to the question, "Are you worried about Israel's long-term survivability?" stated:

"Well, it is amazing to see what Israel has become over the last several decades. I mean, you think about the dream of the early Zionists to have scratched out of rock this incredibly vibrant, incredibly successful and wealthy and powerful country is a testament to the ingenuity and the energy and vision of the Jewish people. And because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel's survival. Others can cause Israel pain, it's a really bad neighborhood and they can inflict causalities and destruction in parts of Israel but Israel is going to survive, that's not the issue."

Aug. 8, 2014 - Barack Obama, JD 

PRO (yes)

Benjamin Netanyahu, MS, Prime Minister of Israel, in a Nov. 16, 2014 interview with CBS' Face the Nation, the video of which is available on, stated:

"Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. Just as the… United States and the world powers are negotiating with Iran a nuclear agreement [sic] the Ayatollah Khamenei, the ruler of Iran, calls for the annihilation of Israel—he just did that four days ago. He specified nine ways and reasons by which Israel should be destroyed. He’s participated in rallies and chants of 'death to America. Death to Israel'. This is not a friend."

Nov. 16, 2014 - Benjamin Netanyahu, MS 

Charles Schumer, JD, US Senator (D-NY), in a Feb. 12, 2015 press release titled "A Nuclear Iran Is an Existential Threat to Israel & Must Be Stopped," released on his website, stated:

"A nuclear Iran is a huge threat to the United States and an existential threat to Israel. I agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel.  One nuclear weapon, hurled from Iran to Israel could end the Jewish state and could kill almost as many Jews as did Hitler."

Feb. 12, 2015 - Charles Schumer, JD 

Ephraim Sneh, MD, former Israeli Deputy Minister of Defense, in a Dec. 19, 2011 article titled "A Warning Call," published in the Huffington Post, wrote:

"Since 1993 I have been calling attention to the potential of a nuclear Iran, perhaps the most dangerous development in our region. Today we all understand that if Iran achieves nuclear military power, it is only a matter of time, a few years, before Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey will reach nuclear capacity as well.

For Israel, that scenario is nothing short of a strategic nightmare. We will be surrounded not only by a nuclear Iran and the long-range missiles of its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza; but by three new nuclear states as well. What they have in common is an authoritarian regime, overwhelmingly influenced by radical Islamist movements.

As tough as this neighborhood has been, Israel has survived due to its military superiority. Should the region go nuclear, that superiority will be lost and Israel's disappearance is a matter of time. No government in Jerusalem can afford to neglect this disturbing reality; no government has the moral authority to allow this fate for our children."

Dec. 19, 2011 - Ephraim Sneh, MD 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, PhD, Iranian President at the time of the quote, in an Aug. 17, 2012 speech broadcast on State television marking Quds Day and reprinted on the France24 website, available at, stated:

"The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour… The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land... A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists."

Aug. 17, 2012 - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, PhD 

CON (no)

Mohammad Javad Zarif, PhD, Iranian Foreign Minister, in an interview with David Ignatius of the Washington Post at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 8, 2015, stated in response to the question:

"DI: What would you say to Israelis who feel that an Iranian nuclear program poses an existential threat to them?

MJZ: [Iran does] not have a weapons program; we will never have a weapons program. We never had a weapons program. They cannot create a smokescreen to hide their atrocities against the Palestinian people, their continued violations of Palestinian human rights, their continued acts of aggression against Palestinian and Lebanese and Jordanian and Syrian people under the guise of a hypothetical Iranian threat, which is more hype than anything else. Iran is not threatening anybody. We're not threatening to use force. We're not saying all options are on the table. I hope that those who continue to make these threats would read the United Nations charter, which says threats and use of force are against international law."

Feb. 8, 2015 - Mohammad Javad Zarif, PhD 

Efraim Halevy, LLM, former Chief of Mossad, stated in a Feb. 6, 2012 interview with Russia Today, available at in the article "Iran Poses No 'Existential Threat' - Ex-Mossad Chief":

"I'm on record as repeatedly saying that I do not think there is such a thing as an existential threat to Israel, because I think Israel is strong enough to protect itself—to take care of itself—and I think that ultimately it's not in the power of Iran to destroy the State of Israel... I believe the leadership believes that in order to arouse international public opinion, in order to mount pressure on the Iranians, it is necessary to impress upon the world at large that this is a serious international threat."

Feb. 6, 2012 - Efraim Halevy, LLM 

Dan Halutz, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, stated in a Feb. 2, 2012 speech at the 12th Annual Herzliya Conference at the Campus of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel, published on Arutz Sheva’s website,

"Iran poses a serious threat but not an existential one… The use of this terminology is misleading. If it is intended to give a message in favor of attacking in Iran, it is a mistake. The option to use force is a last resort and it should be carried out only when there is no other choice… If we are required to take action; if the approach of using power is forced upon us, we will have to do so far beyond the expectations of the other side. With regard to our security, there will be an iron hand always stretched out for peace."

Feb. 2, 2012 - Dan Halutz 

Yossi Melman, author, journalist, and former feature writer for Haaretz, in his Mar. 30, 2015 article "Analysis: Emerging Iran Deal Is Not a 'Sword at Israel's Throat'" for the Jerusalem Post, wrote:

"Israel is the strongest military and economic power in the Middle East. Its strategic standing amid the dissolution of the governments in the Arab world has only improved in the last years. There is no existential threat to the Jewish state.  Not even from Iran."

Mar. 30, 2015 - Yossi Melman