Monday, June 27, 2005

Let's get REAL scared about Iran

Uh-oh! A "hard-liner" won in Iran. And, as the headlines have been screaming for months now, Iran's developing a policy of NUCLEAR ENERGY! And they HATE America. Not, you know, because U.S. intelligence engineered the coup that gave them the Shah and trained his repressive secret police. And not because in 1988 the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, in Iranian airspace, full of civilians, leading George H.W. Bush to say "I will never apologize for the United States, ever. I don't care what the facts are." Or that the U.S. has been reliable supporters and armers of Iran's repressive neighbors (including, especially Saddam Hussein) throughout the Middle East.

No, no, it has nothing to do with all that. The Iranians simply hate our freedom!

Check out the latest Tony Auth comics at uComics.

And in spite of the fact that, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, "the U.S. government and Israel ... have [never] provided the IAEA or the public with the location of any [Iranian] nuclear weaponization sites or any direct evidence of such activities," let's assume the worst, and posit that the Iranians might be getting a nuclear weapon, a Chinese warhead last tested in the mid-60s. Assuming they are totally lying about everything, and if a few dozen contingencies fall into place for them just perfectly, and if they aren't bombed/invaded first, the Iranian nuclear energy research might give them a nuke or two.

Yikes! that rather unlikely concatenation of circumstances would bring the tally among the relevant nuclear powers in the Middle East to this frightening state of affairs:
Country: USA
Nuclear stockpile: 10,600
Militaristic religious zealots in charge of government: yes
Media response: yawn...

Country: Israel
Nuclear stockpile: 75-200
Militaristic religious zealots in charge of government: yes
Media response: zzzzzz

Country: Iran
Nuclear stockpile: 0, but maybe that will change
Militaristic religious zealots in charge of government: yes
Media response: Holy good goddamn! We can't let that happen!!!!

Source on the U.S. and Israeli stockpiles: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Of course Israel neither confirms nor denies its capabilities, but they do kidnap, drug, repatriate, and imprison (in solitary confinement, for eleven years) certain people who do discuss those capabilities.

Very untrendy to think of things like nuclear disarmament these days, especially as it concerns the U.S., but I think the world would be wise to be afraid of the country with over ten thousand nukes. And of course the Soviets have 8600 operational warheads, with another 10,000, you know, lying around somewhere. The doomsday clock is still set on seven minutes to midnight.

Let's not forget the work of Helen Caldicott, who can't seem to squeeze onto the op-ed pages of the Times (she has to write letters to the editor like the rest of us schmucks). Her organization's site is full of discomforting information that for some reason doesn't sell newspapers like runaway bride stories. I personally love this anecdote, related by Alexander Zaitchik in the New York Press:
"The most famous example of [a nearly catastrophic close call] occurred on Jan. 25, 1995, when Norway launched a weather research rocket to explore the Northern Lights phenomenon. When Russia’s radars picked up the missile trajectory, it seemed to have been fired from a U.S. submarine in the Norwegian Sea–long suspected by the Russians as a likely first move in a U.S. surprise attack. Russian nuclear forces scrambled into position and bunker commanders inserted their launch keys, awaiting the order to turn them. Yeltsin, reportedly fuming drunk at the time, opened his nuclear briefcase and consulted with the frenzied General Staff. With their nerves screaming, together they watched the missile trajectory slowly turn away from any conceivable Russian target. When the crisis finally ended, they had less than two minutes to make a decision. (U.S. submarine-launched missiles can reach Moscow in 10 minutes.)

"The Norwegian government had warned the Russian embassy in Oslo in advance about the test, but the information never made it to the Russian General Staff. As described by former CIA analyst Peter Vincent Pry in his book War Scare, it was "a clerical error" that brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any time since October 1962."
So you might think the U.S. goverment would be doing all it can to reduce threats like this. You might think so, but you would be wrong. We have met the nuclear rogue state, and it is us. Referring to the recent debacle at the the United Nations meetings to review the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Susi Snyder, Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, says:
“The United States has had four weeks to demonstrate international leadership on nuclear proliferation. But all they have shown is a democratic deficit. . . . Clearly, the U.S. delegation never wanted to strengthen the Treaty. Instead, they have spent four weeks behind closed doors refusing to recognize agreements they made 5 and 10 years ago. They have bottled up all substantive discussion by haggling over arcane procedures. They have demonstrated a lack of compromise and an unwillingness to move the global non-proliferation regime forward....

“It is convenient to blame Iran and Egypt and others for the failure of the NPT Review Conference. . . . But that begs the question. Egypt, for example, has been very vocal about the importance of acknowledging past agreements and bringing Israel into the Treaty. And Iran has consistently called for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. Both of these actions would strengthen the non-proliferation regime. When the U.S. refuses to even discuss these issues, then they are the ones sabotaging the Treaty.
Oh yeah, and the U.S. just announced plans to produce highly radioactive plutonium-238 for the first time since the Cold War. The The New York Times quotes project managers as saying most, if not all, of the new plutonium is "intended for secret missions."

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