Consequences of an attack on Iran are no joke

Marsha B Cohen writes: The ever-smirking Israeli Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, has calculated that the casualties of a war with Iran could be limited to fewer than 500. “There won’t be 100,000 dead, not 10,000 dead nor 1,000 dead. Israel will not be destroyed,” Barak said reassuringly during a November radio interview quoted by the Washington Post. “If everyone just goes into their houses, there won’t be 500 dead, either,” he said.

Barak means Israelis. As for Iranians, who’s counting? Who cares?

No one is talking about the harm that “surgical air strikes” against “suspected Iranian nuclear facilities” with GBU-28 “bunker-buster” bombs, which derive their ability to penetrate concrete and earth from depleted uranium, would inflict on 74 million Iranians, nearly a quarter of whom are under the age of 14 and under and half of whom are under the age of 30. (Where are those self-designated “pro-life” voices that should be expressing outrage? Or does “the right to life” evaporate as soon as a fetus exits the womb?)

No worries are being expressed about the release of radioactive materials into the biosphere of Central Asia (and by eventual extension, the entire earth). If the depleted uranium in the bombs comes into contact with radioactive nuclear materials present in the targeted nuclear research sites–nearly all of which operate under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision–the potential for disaster would be magnified exponentially.

Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi grimly told the hawkish Herziliya Conference recently that Iran possesses more than 4 tons of low-grade enriched uranium as well as almost 100 kilograms of uranium enriched at 20%. If true, is it really a good idea to send these radioactive materials spewing into the air and water of Central Asia and beyond? Is it any wonder that Russia, China and India–all whom are much closer geographically to Iran, as well as downwind of the direction in which radiation and toxin-tainted winds would initially blow–are the UN Security Council members most opposed to attacking Iran?

Nor is anyone questioning the wisdom of dropping unprecedented numbers of 5000 lb. “bunker busters” capable of penetrating 100 feet of earth or 20 feet of concrete into the bowels of an already earthquake-prone region. No one seems to care about the irreparable and uncontainable environmental damage that could be done to miles of Iranian coastline: the adjacent Caspian Sea to the north, the Arabian Sea to the south, and the Persian Gulf to the west. What about the permanent damage to the underground aquifers of Central Asia, where water is already scarce? If fracking for natural gas can render US drinking water flammable, imagine what pounding some of the most plentiful natural gas fields with bombs could do.

Prognosticating the full extent of the damage that could and would be inflicted upon Iran and upon Iranians is difficult to impossible. No one outside of top security circles can even guess the number of targets of an Israeli and/or US attack (the BBC suggests five in addition to Bushehr). Other variables include the quantity or capacity of the weaponry that would be employed, whether Israel plans on using nuclear weapons, whether so-called “precision surgical strikes” reached or missed their intended targets, all of which would affect the scale of “collateral damage” to human beings, infrastructure, homes and apartments, schools, mosques and World Heritage sites as a consequence of “bomb-bomb-bombing” Iran’s suspected nuclear research facilities.

Almost assuredly an attack on facilities buried deep within the earth would utilize “bunker busting” guided bomb units (GBUs) that gain their power to penetrate from depleted uranium. The cost in lives, injuries, and long-term dangers to the health of civilians, including genetic damage to unborn future generations from toxins and radioactive materials in the depleted uranium bombs dropped and nuclear materials leaked is also incalculable. [Continue reading...]

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