It is estimated Israel has around 400 nuclear weapons. As Israeli arms technician Mordecai Vanunu revealed in 1986, the Israelis have produced 100 to 200 advanced fission bombs and have mastered a thermonuclear design. In 1986, it appeared to have a number of thermonuclear bombs ready for use. According to the Institute for Defense Analyses, Israel’s facilities at Soreq and Dimona have the same mission as the Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the United States. More than twenty years ago, Israel was developing the computer “codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs.”
Meanwhile, Iran is not up to speed, never mind the scary science fiction story weaved by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Iran did manage to enrich a small amount of uranium using a cascade of 164 centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas at supersonic speed. The enriched uranium that Iran produced cannot be used in a nuclear weapon because it contains just 3.5% U-235, whereas a nuclear weapon typically requires highly-enriched uranium that contains more than 90% U-235.
Never mind highly-enriched uranium – Iran has problems with low-enriched uranium. Earlier this year, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had badly underestimated previous assessments of how much low-enriched material it had produced. The IAEA stressed that technical constraints and equipment inefficiencies would prevent Iran from further refining the low-enriched uranium into an adequate supply of weapon-grade material.
However, this has not stopped Israel and the neocons from hysterically claiming Iran has “enough enriched uranium fissionable material to manufacture at least one or two atom bombs of the Hiroshima type,” as Uri Dan wrote for the Jerusalem Post in early 2006. If it didn’t have the nuclear material for a couple crude bombs, “Iranian President Ahmadinejad would not have dared come out with his declaration that Israel should be wiped off the map,” claims Rafi Eitan, key architect of Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad (the operative motto for Mossad is: “By way of deception, thou shalt do war,” according to Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent).
As it turns out, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” as Eitan, the neocons, and most of the corporate media (most notably the New York Times) repeatedly and dishonestly claim. Ahmadinejad’s speech was deliberately mistranslated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Mossad front masquerading as a news service. “Starting with Juan Cole, and going via the New York Times’ experts through MEMRI to the BBC’s monitors, the consensus is that Ahmadinejad did not talk about any maps,” Jonathan Steele wrote for the Guardian in June, 2006. Ahmadinejad did not talk attacking Israel. He made a vague wish for the end of political Zionism — which is, of course, for some the same as attacking Israel with a nuclear bomb.
The ludicrous Center for Strategic and International Studies report — coauthored by the former director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Anthony Cordesman — has appeared in the wake of the dismal failure by Israeli and U.S. intelligence to sabotage the Iranian elections and foment a “color revolution.” It is also designed to coincide with Israel’s provocative Red Sea military exercises that are a rehearsal for an attack on Iran. “Defense experts in Israel said … that the naval activity had been publicized with the intent of sending a message to Iran,” the Telegraph reported last week.
In the real world, the only nuclear threat in the Middle East is the one posed by Israel. If Israel follows through on its threat — increasingly likely with the passing of each week — to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the result will be catastrophic. In the aftermath of an attack, “huge amounts of radioactive material will be lofted into the air to contaminate the people of Iran and surrounding countries,” explains Dr. Helen Caldicott, who consulted with an eminent international authority on nuclear weapons. “This fallout will induce cancers, leukemia, and genetic disease in these populations for years to come, both a medical catastrophe and a war crime of immense proportions,” she writes in her book, “Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer,” published in 2007. She cites the example of Chernobyl.
Finally, as analysts note, conventional weapons will not be effective against Iran’s underground nuclear materials storage site and uranium conversion plant at Isfahan and the underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. “Iranian officials have acknowledged the Isfahan facility is specifically designed to be impervious to conventional attack, making it a prime nuclear target. The Natanz plant is buried between 18 and 23 meters below the surface, making it a difficult target for conventional attack. For this scenario, we modeled attacks, each with three B61-11 earth-penetrating nuclear weapons set to explode with a yield of 340kt. Meteorological models in the HPAC were used to determine the distribution pattern of fallout,” write Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“From our map [above] we can see that within 48 hours, fallout would cover much of Iran, most of Afghanistan and spread on into Pakistan and India. Fallout from the use of a burrowing weapon such as the B61-11 would be worse than from a surface or airburst weapon, due to the extra radioactive dust and debris ejected from the blast site. In the immediate area of the two attacks, our calculations show that within 48 hours, an estimated 2.6 million people would die.” In the wider area, over 10.5 million people would be exposed to significant radiation from fallout. “In the immense fallout zone, very few people would have access to adequate medical care, increasing the potential number of casualties of an attack. From studies conducted after the use of nuclear weapons against Japan we know that there would also be a severe psychological trauma for the affected population, which would further exacerbate negative health outcomes for attack victims.”
The Saudis are taking the threat seriously. In 2008, the Saudi Shura Council — comprised of an elite group making decisions for the autocratic inner circle — prepared “national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors,” according to the kingdom’s leading newspaper, Okaz. In September of 2008, Israel also began preparing civilians for the inevitability of radiation exposure.
Israel and the United States are ready to accept this massive death toll and radioactive contamination in order to “send a message” to Iran. In addition to millions of initial deaths, an Israeli attack – naturally conducted with U.S. participation — would deal a death blow to the global economy and kick off a third world war (the neocons like to call this the “fourth world war,” the third being the so-called Cold War).
Extremist Jews Seek New Purim Massacre in Iran