1st Edition

Cultures of Counterproliferation The Making of US and Israeli Policy on Iran's Nuclear Program

By Raphael BenLevi Copyright 2024
    234 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book argues that the nature of counterproliferation strengthens the effect of cultural factors in policy choices, and illustrates this by focusing on US and Israeli policy toward the Iranian nuclear program.

    The United States and Israel have been the two states most active in opposing Iran’s nuclear ambitions; however, the respective strategies of each of these states have changed repeatedly. This book explores how competing cultural schools of thought on grand strategy within each state inform and shape the key policy decisions in their attempts to prevent a nuclear Iran. Drawing on numerous interviews conducted with former high-level officials in each country as well as published memoirs, this book first describes in detail the belief systems of the competing schools and then analyses the internal debates and key decisions on policy toward the Iranian Nuclear Program, while critically assessing the extent to which these beliefs influenced policy in the face of material-structural pressures. This in-depth analysis of the internal debates and dilemmas within the national leadership of the two states most prominent in the effort to prevent a nuclear Iran constitutes an indispensable guide for scholars and policymakers who will inevitably face similar dilemmas in dealing with this ongoing challenge and additional cases of nuclear proliferation around the world.

    This book will be of much interest to students of nuclear proliferation, US and Israeli foreign policy, Middle Eastern politics and IR in general.


    1. Culture and Counterproliferation                                           

    2. American Approaches to Strategy and Counterproliferation

    3. Israeli Approaches to Strategy and Counterproliferation        

    4. Comparing the Approaches across States                                

    5. Awkward First Steps of Tango, 1996-2001                             

    6. Iran Caught Red-Handed, 2002-2008                                      

    7. How Many Centrifuges are Too Many? 2009-2015                

    8. A Better Deal or No Deal, 2016-2020                                     

    9. Comparing Policies  


    Raphael BenLevi is a postdoctoral fellow in international relations at School of Political Sciences, University of Haifa, and Director of the Churchill Program for National Security at Tikvah Fund Israel. He received his PhD from Bar-Ilan University.

    "BenLevi's book provides a valuable addition to the literature on decision-making, strategic culture, the impact of ideas on foreign policy, and to our understanding of divergent responses to the Iranian nuclear program. It is an important and original work, especially in explaining policy choices made by U.S. and Israeli leaders."

    Robert J. Lieber, Professor Emeritus of Government and International Affairs, Georgetown University, USA 

    "BenLevi has provided a well-researched and in-depth analysis of the interests and considerations that informed the key debates within Israel and the United States regarding one of their greatest mutual national security threats. A must-read for policymakers and scholars alike!"

    Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel's National Security Advisor from  2017 to 2021 and currently head of the Misgav Institute for Zionist Strategy & National Security in Jerusalem