In the first two parts of this article I looked at ways of stopping Iran from enriching uranium, concluding that military action may well be the only way to do so. I then looked at various scenarios for military action and possible consequences of each and asked if, given the possible consequences…
Wouldn't it be better to allow Iran to continue enriching, and instead apply the current amount of pressure on them to allow IAEA inspectors to roam freely around Iran, to make sure no enriched uranium is diverted to a covert weapons program?
My answer is yes, because…
The worst case scenario of that course of action would be the inspectors missing something and Iran enriching uranium to weapons grade, possibly even diverting some and making a few warheads. Now, if you listen to Israeli military advisers, ex-generals, think tanks, lobbyists, and you get the idea, if Iran got nuclear weapons, in a fit of unbridled, religion-induced madness, Ahmadinejad would make good on his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map. You have to ask the question, what would Iran gain from wiping Israel off the map?
Below I will briefly cover the possible consequences of several nuclear attack scenarios. The Physicians for Social Responsibility [PDF Chapter 5 p77] paint a more complete picture.
Some people may think Iran would attempt to wipe Israel off the map to give the Palestinians independence.
The only thing it would give the Palestinians is a slow and painful death from the radiation sickness spread by the toxic dust cloud engulfing everything. In the miracle that some of the Palestinians and/or Israelis survived the attack and by some miracle didn't get radiation sickness, the land would be infertile and anything that did grow would be full of radiation. They would also stand a much higher chance of developing leukaemia and other cancers. It wouldn't be a gamble whether any children born would be deformed, only on the degree of the deformity. That is assuming the Iranian weapons are close to the yield of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the Pacific leg of WWII, which is highly unlikely.
A more likely scenario is Iran attacks Israel with whatever they have thrown together as nuclear missiles; thousands of people die and the above consequences are inflicted, but only on a minute fraction of the scale of Israel's retaliation. The Israeli reaction to such an attack would leave Iran in total devastation, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, killed by the original attack alone, and the aftermath as I detailed above would leave hardly anyone in Iran alive. Again, with radiation in the ground, the crops, and the water system, they couldn't survive. A new book Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, by Helen Caldicott suggests that such an attack could contaminate the whole region. Any miraculous survivors of the blasts and their immediate aftermath would have to be airlifted straight into quarantine to be monitored. Iran as we know it would cease to exist.
Even if the Iranian weapon is on a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki or better and Israel was wiped off the map, Iran would still cease to exist after the U.S retaliated on Israel's behalf. Either way Iran would be no more and the world would hang in the balance of a Russian and Chinese decision.
If anything comes through from Ahmadinejad's supercharged speeches, apart from strong religious beliefs and utter commitment to continue enrichment, it is unrelenting patriotism. The very patriotism that gives such fervour to his continued defiance, in his determination that the state he is so proud to be a part of, enjoys the right it is entitled to under International Law.
It strikes me as slightly hypocritical that the biggest nuclear proliferators in the world should be telling Iran that their signature to the Non-Proliferation Treaty isn't worth the paper it is written on and they are guilty until proven innocent of breaking it. You can't blame Ahmadinejad and other patriotic Iranians for their reaction. Ahmadinejad's patriotism would also surely prevent him from doing anything to risk the total obliteration of his country, including attacking any other country with nuclear weapons, especially Israel.
Unfortunately it looks like Israel will attack Iran, either themselves or using their U.S lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), widely thought to be the most powerful lobby in America, to convince Bush Iran needs to be stopped.
The forecasts I have made in this article could well mean the end of the world and yet I am not running out to build a fallout shelter. Though it may not seem like it from my writing I am ever the optimist. I have written this article in the hope that the U.S will elect as President the candidate they feel is the least likely to be influenced by the Neocons, AIPAC and Israel. In other words, not Bush, who could well wipe out the whole map trying to keep Israel on it.