“If a hostile power (let’s say Iran, for sake of discussion) appeared to be on the verge of mating nuclear devices with the systems needed to deliver them, Israel might well consider a preventive nuclear attack. In the case of Iran, we can imagine scenarios in which Israeli planners would no longer deem a conventional attack sufficiently lethal to destroy or delay the Iranian program. In such a scenario, and absent direct intervention from the United States, Israel might well decide to undertake a limited nuclear attack against Iranian facilities.
Given that Iran lacks significant ballistic missile defenses, Israel would most likely deliver the nuclear weapons with its Jericho III intermediate range ballistic missiles. Israel would likely limit its attacks to targets specifically linked with the Iranian nuclear program, and sufficiently away from civilian areas. Conceivably, since it would be breaking the nuclear taboo anyway, Israel might target other military facilities and bases for attack, but it is likely that the Israeli government would want to limit the precedent for using nuclear weapons as much as possible.
Would it work? Nuclear weapons would deal more damage than most imaginable conventional attacks, and would also convey a level of seriousness that might take even the Iranians aback. On the other hand, the active use of nuclear weapons by Israel would probably heighten the interest of everyone in the region (and potentially across the world) to develop their own nuclear arsenals.
One of Israel’s biggest concerns is the idea that a nuclear power (Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea, presumably) might give or sell a nuclear weapon to a non-governmental organization (NGO). Hamas, Hezbollah, or some other terrorist group would be harder to deter than a traditional nation-state. Even if a terrorist organization did not immediately use the weapon against an Israeli target, it could potentially extract concessions that Israel would be unwilling to make. In such a scenario, Israel might well consider using nuclear weapons in order to forestall a transfer, or destroy the enemy nuclear device after delivery.”