Claims that the Iran deal will spark a nuclear arms race in the region ignore the fact that Israel has led the race for the last 65 years. – The debate about the P5+1 agreement with Iran on its nuclear program has already produced a storm of angry rhetoric and a tsunami of opinion pieces. But one issue is notably absent from the debate: the fact that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal and sophisticated delivery systems that are decades ahead of anything Iran could develop in the foreseeable future. Iran should be constrained by a global regime from getting the bomb, but the notion that Israel is a weak powerless state like Czechoslovakia in 1938 is ludicrous.

The American intelligence community first detected the development of the Israeli nuclear weapons program through U-2 overhead imagery at the end of the 1950s. President John F. Kennedy pressed Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion very hard not to proceed with a weapons program, arguing it would precipitate a regional nuclear arms race. Under pressure from Kennedy, Israel agreed to American inspections of its French-supplied Dimona reactor, but then systematically blocked any serious inspection process. MORE