Monday, October 31, 2011

Post #32 - Thinking about the Unthinkable

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a non-profit based in Washington, DC, has a long history of studying the medical impacts of the use of nuclear weapons. In 2006 study, using software developed by the Pentagon (the Hazard Prediction and Assessment Capability, or HPAC), PSR assessed the probable effects on human populations of use of nuclear “bunker-busters” against Iranian facilities alleged to be part of a weapons program.

Cemetery in the town of Natanz
Postulating that the first two targets would be a uranium enrichment facility near Natanz and the uranium conversion and materials storage facility at Isfahan, PSR inputted what is known about those installations, technical information about available DoD armaments, and relevant meteorological data. The Natanz plant, for example, is buried between 18 and 23 meters below the surface, so they considered that B61-11 earth-penetrating bombs would be the weapon of choice. Their conclusions were these:

"...within 48 hours, fallout would cover much of Iran, most of Afghanistan and spread on into Pakistan and India....In the immediate area of the two estimated 2.6 million people would die...about two-thirds...from radiation-related causes, either prompt casualties from the immediate radiation effects of the bomb, or from localized fallout. Over 1,000,000 people would suffer immediate injuries including thermal and flash burns, radiation sickness, broken limbs, lacerations, blindness, crush injuries, burst eardrums and other traumas. In the wider region, over 10.5 million people would be exposed to significant radiation from fallout, leading to radiation sickness, future excess cancer deaths, genetic abnormalities in future generations, as well as high rates of stillbirths, miscarriages, malignancies and hypothyroidism. Most if not all medical facilities near the two attack sites would be destroyed, or located within the radiation ‘hot zone’ and thus unusable. Little or no medical care would be available to the injured in the aftermath of an attack, leading to many avoidable deaths."

PSR's position is that Iran should not be allowed have nuclear technology (even if purely civilian in nature); but, they say, “nuclear war is not the way to stop them. The use of nuclear weapons against Iran should be taken off the table...PSR urges the President to use diplomatic means to resolve this crisis in the months and years before Iran is likely to achieve nuclear weapons capability.”

Our Doomsday Addiction

Professor and author Dn. John Chryssavgis, representing Archbishop Demetrios (primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America), testified at a hearing in Washington, DC on U.S. plans for the newest generation of U.S. nuclear weaponry, a modernization of the arsenal that still stands at over 10,500 nuclear weapons, 7,000 of them active strategic warheads, with 2,000 programmed to “launch on warning.” (Before reductions mandated in the new arms-control treaty.) He said:

"Not only is nuclear weaponry unsustainable; it is primarily destabilizing. With the increasing danger of international terrorism...the sheer vulnerability of nuclear facilities and weapons ought not simply to encourage the reduction, but also to oblige the elimination of nuclear arms. Nuclear dissuasion (based on the logic of fear) is no longer a valid policy or strategy...
"It is not only a matter of adhering to religious principles of peace, which is justifiably the primary focus of religious institutions. It is a matter of common sense....A “Reliable Replacement Warhead” program can be neither reliable nor responsible. What will it take for us to realize that it is not...”modernization” but a return to outdated politics of fear and power? It does not simply affect specific regions or states, but ultimately threatens the security of the nation as a whole and indeed the entire planet...U.S. action will invariably encourage and invite reaction from other nations. Perhaps it is time for self-reflection, for reconsideration of our grave political and moral responsibility on a global level.
"Progressive and concerted decommissioning is the only viable pledge for long-term, moral, and courageous leadership."

Similarly, at the same hearing, a Roman Catholic representative reminded us that the Review Conferences for the NPT (in 2000 and 2005) had produced re-commitments to the provisions of Article VI: “An unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament...” Rev. Joseph Nangle reaffirmed the position that a papal envoy had announced in 2002, saying, “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek in this 21st century...”

Lewis Mumford said back in 1946: "You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has obey the laws of life." The Reliable Replacement Warhead program failed in the Senate Appropriations Committee in early June of 2007. We shall see if it is really dead or will rise again. In the meantime, funds were inserted into an Iraq War spending bill for massive conventional "bunker-buster" bombs, which would have no utility in Iraq or Afghanistan, but which would be well-suited for "Iran War" plans.

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