Power of Nuclear and Game Theory - Halil Öztürk


The word "nuclear" has caused many international conflicts around the World and scared people enough to talk still about this issue. Even though hearing the word, we associate it directly with weapons or war, and it is one of the most "clean" and efficient energy sources for such big economies as France, the US, and so forth. To talk with simple words, the reason for this association is their direct linkage; after a nuclear energy generation, with enrichment program viz. uranium enrichment, the "terrible Hollywood movie" weapons can be obtained. Due to their "power," it can be seen as the main reason having hitherto caused international conflicts, as we mentioned at the beginning, one of which is an ongoing one between Iran and Israel. On the one hand, Iran wants and insists on building nuclear energy to generate electricity which was responsible for about 2% of total electricity production in 2018; on the other hand, Israel insists on claiming that Iran's plans about this issue are not as peaceful as they state, and consider themselves to be in danger. Nonetheless, despite past tensions and aggressive attitudes, so far, combat between the armies of Israel and Iran has not yet happened. To discover the reason why this is the case, in this paper, we shall first quickly introduce background information for the Iran and Israel conflict and the role of nuclear reactors in this conflict; then, simple background for the game theory concept and its way of use.

Due to the complexity and vulnerability of the Iran-Israel relations, at this part, we are going to give a quick, simple background to comprehend our game theory analysis better.


Since the discovery of secret Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz two decades ago, the attitudes of the West and Israel have been suspicious against The Islamic Republic, and a proxy (shadow) war started against Iran even though Israel welcomed relations with Iran more openly after the Suez war and they developed close military and intelligence relationship by early 1959, which can be regarded as an outcome of the periphery doctrine: The enemies of my enemy are my friends to protect itself from hostile Arab neighbors. Nonetheless, before the discovery, the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran had already put an end to the cooperation between Iran and Israel due to ideological reasons; Tehran believes Israel to base on Western colonialism and a pillar of American imperialism in the Middle East. This radical change in Iran’s policy naturally has made Israel be suspicious and aggressive against Iran.

To understand the nuclear research program of Iran for a war between Israel and Iran, we will conduct a fundamental game theory analysis which is a collection of models of rational decision-making in interactive situations. In our set, the agents, Iran and Israel, each have two alternatives to choose from; for Iran, continue to nuclear research or stop, and for Israel, attack or do not attack. To represent in a normal form:


We will have the following assumptions:

● The primary objective of Iran: Continue nuclear research

● The secondary objective of Iran: Avoid a military conflict with Israel

● Therefore, we can conclude that for Iran:

● Outcome4 (4) > Outcome1 (3) > Outcome3 (2) > Outcome2 (1)

● The primary objective of Israel: Iran stops nuclear research

● The secondary objective of Israel: Avoid a military conflict with Iran

● Ergo, we can conclude that for Israel:

● Outcome3 (4) > Outcome2 (3) > Outcome4 (2) > Outcome1 (1)

To represent the game with the corresponding payoffs based upon the preference orders of Iran and Israel:

Note: The first payoff is for Israel, and the second one is for Iran.


By playing this basic game, we can easily see that the player shall reach the Nash Equilibrium of "Continue Nuclear Research / Do not Attack Iran ."That is, even though there has been a conflict of interests between Israel and Iran over the nuclear research program of Iran, equipped with the game theory tool, based upon our assumptions, Iran is the winner in this conflict.


All in all, in this paper, we tried to give a simple explanation of the conflict over the nuclear research program of Iran between Israel and Iran with the help of a popular tool, game theory. As long as the assumptions of the model are valid, the conflict seems to continue in favor of Iran based upon analysis.