The point of the compass that was inserted in Damascus last week caused the pencil at the other end to draw a threatening semicircle. It's the semicircle that marks the range of the missiles that are liable to fall into Syrian hands: the oldest model of Iskander-E missiles, which have a range of 280 kilometers - all the way to the nuclear reactor at Dimona.

Two months ago, or perhaps two years, the point of the compass was plunged into Tehran. Again, a threatening semicircle emerged, this one of 1,300 kilometers, and again Dimona was the target; not the slum areas there, and not the Ramat Hovav waste disposal site, around which Bedouin live - only the reactor, the national shield. The reactor that contains little more than an exemplary high school, according to the "exclusive photos" we saw.

Half a year ago, the compass moved again, when it turned out that Hezbollah has no fewer than 2,000 missiles that can hit not only Tchernikhovsky Street in Kiryat Motzkin but can even reach Mizrahi Bank in Netanya. And what about the improved Qassam missiles, the ones that slam into Sderot? They don't need a compass. They are not threatening. They explode and inflict casualties.

The threatening states are well aware of their weaknesses. Syria knows what the implications will be if an Iskander-E missile lands in Israel, Iran knows how much its population will be reduced if one of its ballistic missiles hits Israel, and Hezbollah's stock of Katyusha rockets has not yet been diminished because of overuse.

The principle of deterrence is still valid in the region's wars, and in the meantime the only country that has recently attacked another country with missiles is the United States, in Iraq. That is, except for the Qassam rockets that emanate from Gaza. Because the Qassam has a different motivation. But we won't talk about the Qassam now, because we have solutions for them, you know: operations "Orange Steel," "Purple Steel" and nerves of steel.

There is no doubt that missiles at any range are dangerous, and this is not meant to diminish the scale of the threat they pose. It is aimed mainly at the presentation of this kind of old goods as having just come off the production line. Syria does not need new missiles in order to threaten Israel; it has good old Scuds, and it also has chemical and biological weapons. Hezbollah does not need more missiles or "Igla" shoulder missiles to threaten Israel, because the organization has not yet made use of all its Strella missiles. Certainly it has more than enough Katyushas. Iran, too, had an effective stock of weapons with which to threaten Israel, even if they are not the last word in navigation or control technology.

The danger posed by these countries lies not in the types of weapons they have but in the motivation that prompts them to act. In Syria's case - and therefore Hezbollah's, too - it's a type of motivation that can be neutralized by peace talks.

However, affection for threats is apparently genetic, and Israel just doesn't feel important enough without a triple threat of missiles of short, intermediate and long range. Anyone who completes the circles made by the compass will discover that there are a great many states within the range of the missiles. Iran, with its Shihab 3, can strike at India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but also at Turkey and Romania and maybe even further. Syria's missiles will reach Ankara and certainly Kirkuk (only the Qassam has an exclusive one-country range). Yet, neither Turkey, Germany, Pakistan, India nor Romania has expressed outrage at the possibility of Russia selling such missiles to Syria. That's because they already have peace agreements with the threatening countries.

And there's one more small matter, too. Israel cannot complain that Russia is selling its enemies missiles containing the latest technology when Israel continues to carry out technological transactions of the military kind with Russia, and when it is installing Russian technology in radar systems that are put in the planes of third countries that threaten "fourth" countries.