The real nuclear threat of nuclear war is not from Iran but from missile shields and laser systems that could allow a nuclear armed state to make a nuclear attack without fear of a nuclear counter-strike just as happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945
A US anti-missile laser test in February
While a ridiculous amount of attention is being paid to whether Iran might develop one nuclear weapon and so possess the same nuclear deterrent that the UK, France, the US ,Russia, China and Israel have had for decades there is no discussion in the media of the much bigger risk of nuclear war posed by the advances in anti-missile technology being made by the US (such as the first successful test of plane mounted lasers which took down a ballistic missile in February). The assumption seems to be that projects like this and the ‘missile shield’ network across Europe are ‘purely defensive’, when in fact they could return the world to the situation at the time of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, when the US felt free to use nuclear weapons on Japan’s civilian population because it could do so without any fear of a nuclear counter-strike (1).
(Obama also offered last year to drop the European ‘Missile Defence Shield’ plan if the Russian government would help the US put pressure on Iran (2))
The US-Russian strategic warheads reduction deal has been part of Obama’s attempt to paint a rosy picture of a future without nuclear weapons, as an attempt to persuade the world to back sanctions and war on Iran to prevent it getting nuclear weapons, with the BBC reporting that it would allow Obama and Putin to take the “moral high ground” in taking action against Iran. Yet the treaty merely reduces the number of deployed nuclear warheads by about 30%, leaving the US and Russia with 1,550 deployed warheads each (and presumably an unspecified number of warheads which won’t be deployed – or else the word would be redundant) (3).
Yet they simultaneously claim Iran can’t be trusted with a single one – and make no mention of Israel’s arsenal – estimated at 80 deployed warheads. The risk of an accidental launch of one of the thousands of warheads which Russia and the US will still possess is greater than the risk of Iran starting a nuclear war. Despite the fear mongering Iran’s Ayatollahs and the commanders of the Revolutionary Guard have never shown much enthusiasm for national suicide – most of the current senior Ayatollahs and veteran Guard officers having been responsible for persuading Khomeini to negotiate an ignominious peace with Iraq in 1988 rather than risk direct US involvement and certain defeat (4) - (6).
Plans for ‘stronger’ sanctions on Iran are also being presented by the Obama admistration as if they were a ‘peaceful’ measure which would kill no-one. In fact, if they’re anything like the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1991 till 2003 at the demand of the US government they’re likely to result in deaths in the millions. Two heads of the UN sanctions programme on Iraq - Dennis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck – resigned in disgust at the number of children who died as a result of sanctions over 12 years – at least 5,000 a month or over 700,000 over 12 years). In practice sanctions which aren’t targeted specifically on a small number of products or individuals kill people on a scale comparable to war (7) – (9).
Some supporters of the Iraq war continually claim the war was necessary in order to end the sanctions, which is not true ; the sanctions could have been lifted without any risk of Saddam ‘invading his neighbours’ or ‘gassing his own people’ (things he could only do when the entire world was arming and funding him against Iran) or using WMD on us or our allies (he had the chance in the 1991Gulf war and didn’t, because he knew the response would have been nuclear) , still less ‘giving them to Al Qa’ida or other terrorist groups’ (which would have been national suicide by proxy for Iraq even if Saddam and Al Qa’ida hadn’t been bitter enemies) (10).
What’s more the invasion has not led to an increase in food supplies for Iraqis but a reduction to a quarter of the food rations provided under sanctions and Saddam (and that’s the ones who aren’t refugees within their own country and so unable to get anything but aid from charities and the UN as they aren’t at the address they were at on the ration list) (11).
Sadly facts never get in the way of those hyping non-existent ‘threats’ for their own reasons – at the Iraq Inquiry Tony Blair spent half his time calling for ‘action’ against Iran, as oblivious to the risks of action being far greater than the risks of inaction in this situation, probably because he never has to suffer the effects of the actions he calls for.
(1) = guardian.co.uk 12 Feb 2010 ‘US 'Star Wars' lasers bring down ballistic missile’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/feb/12/star-wars-laser-ballistic-missile
(2) = guardian.co.uk 03 Mar 2009 ‘Obama offers to drop missile project if Russian helps deal with Iran’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/03/obama-russia-iran-nuclear
(3) = BBC News 26 Mar 2010 ‘US and Russia announce deal to cut nuclear weapons’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8589385.stm
(4) = BBC News 04 Apr 2010 ‘Global map of nuclear arsenals’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7979757.stm
(5) = Takeyh, Ray (2006), ‘Hidden Iran - Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books, New York, 2006 - pages 170-174
(6) = Pollack, Kenneth M.(2004), ‘The Persian Puzzle', Random House, New York, 2005 paperback edition - pages 231-233
(7) = CNN 30 Mar 2010 ‘Obama, Sarkozy discuss Iran sanctions, global economy’, http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/30/obama.sarkozy/index.html
(8) = BBC News 30 Sep 1998 ‘'UN official blasts Iraq sanctions', http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/183499.stm
(9) = Guardian 29 Nov 2001 ‘The hostage nation’, by Hans Von Sponeck & Dennis Halliday’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/nov/29/iraq.comment
(10) = Nye , Joseph S. & Smith , Robert K. (1992), ‘After the Storm' , Madison Books , London , 1992 , - pages 211-216 (Nye is a former CIA officer)
(11) = See sources 82 to 90 on this link