In 1964 China was considered just as radical and unstable and irrational as Iran is today. In fact, probably more so. The Great Leap Forward had just ended, which consumed 25-60 million lives. The split with the USSR had come a few years previously as well because Khrushchev thought Stalin wasn't all that and a bag of chips, with Mao accusing the Soviets of "counter-revolution"...On that note, I open the floor to Gwynne Dyer:
And yet when the US had the chance to bomb Chinese nuclear facilities to forestall a nuclear China in 1964, it refused.
In the ensuing media panic, we were repeatedly reminded that Iran's radical new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared just months ago that Israel should be "wiped off the map." How could such a lethally dangerous regime be allowed to proceed with its nuclear plans?We underestimate the deterrent capability of nuclear weapons, which is silly. The US and USSR were both deterred for most of the Cold War, and even today the US has effectively been deterred by the North Korean bomb - after the North Koreans have been deterred for decades by the US Nuclear Umbrella protecting South Korea. Why would we expect anything different from Iran?
But talk is cheap and not to be confused with actions or even intentions....
Israel has held a monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East since shortly after Ahmadinejad was born and now possesses enough of them to strike every Iranian and every Arab city of more than 100,000 people simultaneously.
Ahmadinejad's comment was as foolish, but also ultimately as meaningless, as Ronald Reagan's famous remark into a microphone that he didn't know was open: "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."...
Ahmadinejad was not joking about wanting Israel to vanish, but he was expressing a wish, not an intention, because Iran has been thoroughly deterred for all of his adult life by the knowledge of those hundreds of Israeli nuclear warheads.