What, then, when they get the bomb? "I don't believe Iran is a suicide state," he said. "Deterrence will work with Iran. It is a country of many different power centers that are competing. Despite what their crazy president says, I doubt seriously whether the Iranians are interested in starting a nuclear war." As for the Israelis, Abizaid said "they can take care of themselves up to a point...." but "we and the Israelis are going to have to have a very clear conversation about what we will do if the Iranians develop and field a weapon. Over the next 20 years the relationship will have to go from a de-facto alliance to one of an unmistakable alliance." In other words, the US should extend its nuclear shield over Israel.Bingo. As I've said before, here, the problem with deterring Iran against Israel is the disparity in the sizes and population concentrations of Iran and Israel. The only way deterrence will work is if Iran knows that it will be extinguished as a state if it attempts to nuke Israel, which will be hard for the Israelis to guarantee on their own, given the size of their survivable nuclear arsenal.
So the answer is obvious: If the US puts up a nuclear umbrella over the the Middle East, we can not only deter attacks but hopefully preempt the proliferation in the first place. In fact, this would be an excellent thing for Bush to do right now; he can take the heat for it and his successor need then only stand by the doctrine. Furthermore, by doing this now, it sends and unambiguous signal to the Iranians that all of the international condemnation they're going to endure over their nukes will be futile, because the US simply will not allow them to gain a strategic advantage through their development. Assuming that Iran is a rational state (which is yet to be proven but most states are indeed rational), this seems like the only way to pry Iran away from its nuclear aspirations, short of bombing.