It’s time for the American public to pull their collective heads out of the sand and recognize that Iran, this bellicose little piece of ancient Persian real estate, has been active in the nuclear arena for DECADES. To hear Bush and Obama tell it, you would think that the nuclear erector set just arrived by Fed Ex a few days ago. Iran not only has nuclear, but, most likely, scads of nuclear. Our response to that fact calls for a delicate touch.
The Iranian and worldwide nuclear presence started with a sleazy Pakistani by the name of Abdul Qadeer Khan, who joined the Pakistani Nuclear Weapons Program in 1976. Abdul is not to be confused with the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission with the same last name, Munir Ahmad Khan. He’s a straight shooter.
Pakistan started its program in reaction to historical enemy India and also as an offshoot of losing lots of land and millions of people as a consequence of their own actions and the Indo (India) -Pakistan war in the early 70’s. That’s when Pakistan territory, East Bengal, became the independent state of Bangladesh. It served the Pakistani regime right because they treated the East Bengalese like shit. The Pakistani army killed intellectuals, activists, Hindus and about a million other citizens who were just standing around. The remaining population took refuge in India.
It was this national embarrassment of losing East Bengal and the fact India had tested its first nuclear bomb that started the nuclear ball rolling for Pakistan. I’m not going to chronologically track each nuclear step except to say that Pakistan took their nuke program very seriously.
From early on the ‘bad’ Khan, that’s Abdul, traveled the globe peddling nuclear design secrets and other radioactive esoterica to any and all international buyers lined up six deep. Among his customers – Iran. And that was decades ago. He also made illegal transfers of nuclear materials and technology to the likes of Libya, North Korea and others of equally questionable repute.
In the early 80’s, Khan held court with Syria, Saudi Arabia and eventually al Qaeda, all requesting nuclear assistance. Syria kept in contact and eventually built the Osirak reactor. While the high-profile Israeli bombing of an Iraqi reactor just outside Baghdad got all the international ink, few remember a similar attack on Osirak in 2007.
The Saudi’s could have been looking at a defensive stance or maybe something else. I report, you decide! Suffice to say this guy criss-crossed the globe with his nuclear satchel. China and former Soviet Union scientists were also eager participants in the “p’sssst, you wanna buy nuclear crap” black market. We haven’t even touched on the thriving international arms trade, legit and otherwise, whose sellers either have direct access to nuclear weaponry or know where to get it.
Israel developed its nuclear arsenal with the help of France back in the 60’s and refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “We don’t need no stinkin’ treaty.” America, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom have signed, but it doesn’t mean a rogue scientists or two won’t try to fatten his bank account selling secrets to the highest bidder.
More than 50 nations sent representatives to South Korea this past weekend to discuss a date to ‘lock down’ nuclear materials and keep them out of the hands of terrorists. One of the nations not invited – Iran! Makes sense, the one country mentioned most prominently when the subject of nuclear comes up and we don’t want them there. North Korea, under new management, is not there either. It’s not clear whether they wanted to attend, but you would think it would be handy to have them there if at all possible. The optimum lock down wish-date is 2014.
As for Khan, he ‘retired’ in 2001 with nary a rebuke or criminal charge from Pakistan or the world community. He just knew too many dark International armament secrets. Informed sources say he’s still weaseling around the globe.
You’re very right to be afraid of nuclear bombs and weaponry. Be very afraid. They come in all shapes and sizes. For the most part when you’re talking nuclear weapons, you’re talking nuclear warheads. For context, nuclear warheads are of varying sizes and are transported by the likes of cruise, Tomahawk, ICBM and other missiles. If Iran doesn’t have a bunch of these warheads, I’ll eat your keffiyeh.
Bombs might be another story. I doubt Iran has a single nuclear bomb. Very few countries have them. Even fewer in great numbers. Our first nuclear effort was a fission bomb, a real radiation horror. President Truman dropped two of their number from the Enola Gay on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 and the Japanese are feeling the cancer, thyroid and psychological effects to this day.
As horrific as those bombings were, they pale in comparison with the earth-ending nuclear technology that lays barely dormant in assorted national and terrorists arsenals. Thermonuclear, hydrogen and neutron bombs and variations thereof. Wed cobalt-60 with a fusion nuclear ‘dirty’ bomb and the aftermath would be devastating. Got a nuclear power plant near you? Under Fukushima-like circumstances, that’s a dirty bomb waiting to go off.
Also waiting in the wings – 3 versions of neutron warheads. Jimmy Carter stopped the neutron program after 1978 protests, but Ronald Reagan eagerly re-upped the warheads during his administration. GHW, the Bush with a brain, was less enthusiastic and put the project on the back burner.
As for the neutron bomb, it can release up to 10 times the radiation of your garden-variety fission bombs. Meaning it could sting a bit if you get in its way.
As sissified as it might seem to right-wing hawks, diplomacy, ongoing inspections and effective intelligence are the only, yes the ONLY solutions to a world stacked to the heavens with supplies of nuclear weapons of unimaginable destructive capabilities. We’ve been basically engaged in the war equivalent of somewhat limited combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Start bombing Iran or any additional Muslim nation and you’re looking at world annihilation.