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Living with Uncertainty

The entire argument for attacking Iran rests on a hypothetical future scenario, also known as fear-mongering: If we allow Iran to develop nuclear power technology, they might start up a secret nuclear weapons program, and then they might use a nuclear weapon to attack Israel. Therefore, we must attack Iran and stop all these things from ever possibly happening. (Notice that Iran might attack Israel in this hypothetical scenario, not the United States.)

I’m sorry, but that is just lame, especially given that Iran has the right to develop peaceful nuclear power technology, and Iran has complied with the IAEA, and Iran has not attacked another country in a couple hundred years. Israel, on the other hand, has nuclear weapons but never declared them, and Israel has repeatedly attacked its neighbors and continues to do so. So let’s get real. Israel is the country that needs to be controlled here, not Iran.

But if that does not satisfy those who can’t stand living with the possibility that some horrible thing might happen to Israel somewhere down the road, let’s just talk about the horrible things that would definitely happen to all of us here on Earth if the US or Israel attack Iran’s nuclear power plants. There’s a moral argument to be made here, or at least an argument about justice. Let’s set up our little scales of justice with Israel’s paranoid fears of Iran on one side and the consequences of bombing Iran’s nuclear power plants on the other side, shall we?

Never in history has it happened that nuclear power plants and nuclear enrichment facilities have been deliberately bombed. Such facilities, everywhere in the world, operate under severe safety conditions because the release of radioactive materials is deadly, immediately and also long after exposure. If the USA or Israel deliberately bomb a fully fueled nuclear power plant or nuclear fuel enrichment facilities, containment will be breached; radioactive elements will be released into the environment. There will be horrific deaths for families in the surrounding vicinity. The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated 3 million deaths would result in 3 weeks from bombing the nuclear enrichment facilities near Esfahan, and the contamination would cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, all the way to India.

Reactors and enrichment facilities are built of extra strong concrete, often with multiple layers of containment domes, often built underground. Bombing such facilities will require powerful explosives, earth penetrator war heads, maybe nuclear warheads. The explosions will blow the contamination high into the atmosphere. Where will it go is a question that is difficult to predict.

The nuclear fallout from bombing Iran will have a half life of 700 million years. That is a duration difficult to comprehend. Jesus Christ was preaching a mere 2 thousand years ago. In the evolution of humans, our earliest ape-like ancestors were walking upright a mere 5 million years ago. The Bush administration and its Israeli advisors are now planning to contaminate the planet for 700 million years. From the rhetoric of Presidential candidates John McCain and Hillary Clinton, they, too, think that is a good idea. The US media seem to applaud.

Either Americans do not understand what it is they are preparing to do, or they think themselves immune to the consequences. The planet is not large. What goes around, comes around. Smoke from the Gulf War oil fires went around the world and was detected in South America. Radioactive fallout from bombing a nuclear reactor will also go far, especially considering that it has millions of years to make the trip. The Persian Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran have more than half the world’s known oil reserves. The 1981 study by Fetter and Tsipis in Scientific American on “Catastrophic Releases of Radioactivity” estimated that bombing a nuclear reactor would cause 8600 square miles around the reactor to be uninhabitable, depending on which way the wind blows. Bombing the Bushehr reactor will mean half of the world’s oil is instantly inaccessible. Bombing Iran means that Americans will not be driving cars any where, any more, for a long, long time. The American Way of Life will be finished. An economic collapse unimagined by Americans will follow. Mechanized farming and food transport will be finished. Famine is a possibility. Food riots are a certainty, in the land of plenty, with the fuel gauge on empty.

Hmm. I dunno. I’m thinking the Israelis better learn to live with a little uncertainty, because honestly, I think polluting our planet with nuclear contamination for 700 million years is asking just a wee bit too much of the rest of us. But, admittedly, I’m a bitch that way.