What an attack on Iran would mean

We Americans talk of the Iranian leaders as madmen, but it is our leaders, not theirs, who are talking about launching an unprovoked military attack that could cost thousands of lives of people who have just as much right to live as the people working in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

In an Orwellian use of language, we said that for the Iranians to acquire the means to retaliate against an attack is an act of aggression.  Recently I came across an article by Marcia B. Cohen on Alternet about just what an attack on Iran might mean.  She quoted from a 114-page study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which devoted just two pages to the human and environmental consequences for Iran.

Bushehr nuclear plant

Any strike on the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.

The bombs and missiles used against Iran would use depleted uranium, which is much heavier than lead, to give it greater penetrating power.  She went on to say:

No one is talking about the harm that “surgical air strikes” against “suspected Iranian nuclear facilities” with GBU-28 “bunker-buster” bombs, which derive their ability to penetrate concrete and earth from depleted uranium, would inflict on 74 million Iranians, nearly a quarter of whom are under the age of 14 and under and half of whom are under the age of 30. … …

No worries are being expressed about the release of radioactive materials into the biosphere of Central Asia (and by eventual extension, the entire earth).  If the depleted uranium in the bombs comes into contact with radioactive nuclear materials present in the targeted nuclear research sites–nearly all of which operate under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision–the potential for disaster would be magnified exponentially.

Israeli F-16

Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi grimly told the hawkish Herziliya Conference recently that Iran possesses more than 4 tons of low-grade enriched uranium as well as almost 100 kilograms of uranium enriched at 20%.  If true, is it really a good idea to send these radioactive materials spewing into the air and water of Central Asia and beyond?  Is it any wonder that Russia, China and India–all whom are much closer geographically to Iran, as well as downwind of the direction in which radiation and toxin-tainted winds would initially blow–are the UN Security Council members most opposed to attacking Iran?

Nor is anyone questioning the wisdom of dropping unprecedented numbers of 5000 lb. “bunker busters” capable of penetrating 100 feet of earth or 20 feet of concrete into the bowels of an already earthquake-prone region.  No one seems to care about the irreparable and uncontainable environmental damage that could be done to miles of Iranian coastline: the adjacent Caspian Sea to the north, the Arabian Sea to the south, and the Persian Gulf to the west.  What about the permanent damage to the underground aquifers of Central Asia, where water is already scarce?  If fracking for natural gas can render US drinking water flammable, imagine what pounding some of the most plentiful natural gas fields with bombs could do.

via AlterNet.

President Obama is holding back on attacking Iran, but at the same time he says that it is unacceptable for Iran to develop nuclear weapons and that all options, including an attack on Iran, are on the table.  The U.S. already is waging economic war against Iran, and Israeli intelligence agents are believed to be murdering Iranian scientists.  Since it would be illogical for Iran’s leaders to stop trying to acquire the means to defend themselves when they are threatened by two nuclear powers, the United States and Israel, there doesn’t seem to be any way out.

Here is what President Obama said about his policy toward Iran in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg

… As president of the United States, I don’t bluff. I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are.  But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say. 

via The Atlantic.

Probably he doesn’t want to start a war.  Possibly he is talking as he does so as to give himself political cover from Republican hawks such as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.  I have no way of knowing what is in his heart and mind.  But in the past, when President Obama has made hawkish or conservative statements, he has meant what he said.  I would take him at his word.  And, in any case, by taking the stand he has, the President may be boxing himself in so that he may feel he has no choice but to go to war.

U.S. military bases near Iran

War with Iran would be a blunder as well as a crime.  The loss of Iranian oil, and possibly most of the rest of the oil that comes from the Persian Gulf, would mean a huge increase in oil prices, possibly triggering another recession.  I hate to make that argument because it implies that what I pay for gasoline for my car is more important than the lives of Iranian men, women and children.

President Obama in his interview gave a lot of good reasons for not wanting Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.  It might well be the start of more nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  It would strengthen Iran’s power position in the Middle East, by giving it a certain immunity from retaliation or attack.  But an attack on Iran would not prevent the Iranian government from acquiring nuclear weapons.  It only would delay it for a certain number of years.  Is this delay worth the killing of thousands of human beings, who have as much right to live on this planet in peace as you and I?

Our propagandists say the Iranians are dangerous fanatics, dedicated to the destruction of the United States and Israel at all costs.  In fact, compared to the United States in the past 10 years, Iran is a peaceful nation.  But an attack on Iran, resulting in the slaughter of thousands, might be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It might turn the Iranians into the kind of dangerous fanatics we say they are.

Click on What No One Is Saying for the full article on Alternet.

Click on Study of a Possible Israeil Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities PDF for the report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies from which Marcia B. Cohen quotes.  The assessment of the Iranian casualties and environmental damage are on pages 90-91 of this report.

Click on “As President of the United States, I don’t bluff” for the text of President Obama’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.

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One Response to “What an attack on Iran would mean”

  1. Preeti Mishra Says:

    This article reminds me about a documentary – “Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium” was made shortly after the war in Iraq 2003. The Agent Orange was said to be harmless – the cover-up was not revealed before 23 years after the war. More than 1 million adults today are ill from the illnesses related to having being sprayed heavily with Agent Orange.

    To visit please visit – http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/6720


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