Many professional observers have come to the conclusion that, despite denials and technical problems whose solutions are not publicly known, Israel already has nuclear weapons or has completed all but the final steps in their fabrication. It is also widely believed that one or more Arab states will come into atomic possession within a 10 to 15 year time frame. The present analysis explores the consequences of the establishment of a regional mini-balance of terror. The central hypothesis is that apocalyptic images and doomsday visions have been accepted too readily and out of proportion to the arguments that are given, and that a stable system of mutual deterrence may be viable in the Middle East and may make a positive contribution to the process of political settlement. Problems of rationality, credibility, second-strike force survivability, escalation, tactical nuclear weapons, accidents, permissive action links, terrorism, preventive war, and the disclosure of nuclear weapons possession are discussed.