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New Concern Over Attack On Iran

A letter by Paul Fogarty


My dear friends and fellow Iranian-Americans,


I am an Iranian-American who is very concerned about the recent state of affairs between the U.S. government and the Iranian government.  I was asked to share my concerns.  Thank you for your consideration.  I think I may share the same concerns as some of you.


There have been a series of events and statements that have begun to "escalate" the tension between the United States Iran lately.  Accusations and threats, both direct and indirect, have been made--including actual threats of nuclear attack.  As an Iranian-American, I am very concerned.


In addition to hearing the latest heated political rhetoric from Obama, Clinton and Gen. Gates about Iran, I reviewed the recently released United States Nuclear posture Review (NPR) and found some very disturbing statements written into the document itself.  It is clear that a significant portion of this document is written to create a new, more aggressive, U.S. defense policy directed towards Iran.  And this is the document that so many members of the administration have brought to the forefront of discussion in recent days.

"The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) outlines the Administration's approach to promoting the President's agenda for reducing nuclear dangers and pursuing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, while simultaneously advancing broader U.S. security interests."

This is the stated objective of the NPR, however, there is language throughout the document that singles out and specifically names Iran and North Korea.  Some of the discussion is very disturbing.  While the objective of the NPR is to reduce the use of nuclear weapons, the U.S. has introduced the caveat that it will maintain the right to actually use them against countries "not in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations."

"In the case of countries not covered by this assurance - states that possess nuclear weapons and states not in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations - there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or CBW attack against the United States or its allies and partners. The United States is therefore not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted."

We don't have to read between the lines to see the danger in this sort of threatening language.  However, if we do, it becomes even more clear that the U.S. is specifically stating that we may attack Iran and that it could be a nuclear attack.  The administration has already stated in the same document that Iran has met the criteria for the U.S. to take this most extreme of military measures:

"Today's other pressing threat is nuclear proliferation. Additional countries - especially those at odds with the United States, its allies and partners, and the broader international community - may acquire nuclear weapons. In pursuit of their nuclear ambitions, North Korea and Iran have violated non-proliferation obligations, defied directives of the United Nations Security Council, pursued missile delivery capabilities, and resisted international efforts to resolve through diplomatic means the crises they have created. Their provocative behavior has increased instability in their regions and could generate pressures in neighboring countries for considering nuclear deterrent options of their own. Continued non-compliance with non-proliferation norms by these and other countries would seriously weaken the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with adverse security implications for the United States and the international community."

In fact, the number one objective in "preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism" includes reversing the nuclear "ambitions" of Iran:

"The U.S. approach to preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism includes three key elements. First, we seek to bolster the nuclear non-proliferation regime and its centerpiece, the NPT, by reversing the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran, strengthening International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and enforcing compliance with them, impeding illicit nuclear trade, and promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy without increasing proliferation risks."

Here the NPR outlines requirements for the threat or actual use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.:

The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear" weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations."

However, it has already been made clear that the U.S. believes Iran is not "in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations", as stated previously in this same document.  So, what the Administration is saying is that the U.S. does reserve the right to threaten or even use nuclear weapons against Iran right now or at any time we believe they are not living up to their "nonproliferation obligations".


This, to me, is making the case for war or attack (including nuclear) on Iran and is completely unacceptable.  The criteria that has been established, whereby a country is not a direct threat but rather is in some perceived violation of non-proliferation obligations in no way justifies the use of first strike nuclear attack by the most powerful military power in the world and one with the most advanced nuclear arsenal.  Furthermore, these statements, plus the subsequent statements by Clinton, Obama and Gates directed specifically towards Iran can legitimately be perceived as a threat of nuclear attack by one NPT member against another.  This, in itself, is a direct violation of the NPT by the U.S.  No member may ever threaten the use of nuclear attack.




To grasp the significance of this newly stated U.S. position, I think it is important to put it in context.  In the lead up to the Iraq war, the U.S. claimed that Saddam Hussein was in violation of a UN resolution by not providing "unfettered access" to nuclear facilities by UN weapons inspectors.  That violation became the justification for our subsequent invasion and attack, despite contradicting other international laws and treaties.  


I'm afraid the posture of the U.S. now with respect to Iran is strikingly similar to that of the U.S. in the days leading up to the Iraq war.  We have now expressly stated, in writing, a clear justification for an attack Iran--and potentially a nuclear attack, despite the legal and moral implications of such an act.


It sounds ludicrous for any country in this day and age to make the threat of a real nuclear attack.  That is why the NPR is so egregious and unacceptable on its face to allow for such statements in the first place.  It seems very unlikely that the U.S. would simply send massive amounts of Hiroshima-like nuclear destruction down on any country as a first strike option.  If anything, it sounds more like threats designed to intimidate our adversaries...if that is really the intended effect.  


However, there is another, more tactical interpretation to the NPR's nuclear exception.  We must not overlook the other (in my opinion very realistic) scenario of the U.S. actually using nuclear weapons in a first strike capacity on Iran.  It plays out like this: "If" the U.S. were to attack Iran, it would most likely be from the air on strategic targets, not boots on the ground.  Those strategic targets would be military and maybe governmental (if we actually wanted to go as far as to decapitate the government), but would undoubtedly include all of Iran's nuclear facilities, in the least, so as to set back their nuclear development and delay the risk of Iran having a nuclear weapon in the near future, or so the backwards logic goes.  We all know what the real consequences would be.   However, we also know Iran has fortified its nuclear facilities and placed them underground in anticipation of just such an attack by the U.S.  It's not exactly a secret; we've discussed targeting Iran's nuclear facilities for years.  Unfortunately for our military, conventional "bunker busters" are not powerful enough to penetrate deeply and with enough power to effectively incapacitate Iran's underground nuclear facilities.  And we know that.  However, nuclear bunker busters would be powerful enough.  So, that is why we have been pushing for the development of these weapons over the past few years. 


Despite the back and forth controversy on the U.S. developing "new nukes", there is the larger issue of the U.S. actually being able to use a nuclear weapon in the 21st century.  That, I am afraid, is where the concept of "usable" tactical nukes comes in, and, unfortunately, where the NPR basically covers us for just such an application.  This is my fear.  I don't think the U.S. would ever drop massive amounts of nuclear power on Iranian cities, however, I do think we would seriously consider using tactical nuclear bunker busters to take out various Iranian nuclear underground facilities.  As I see it, the stage has been set and all the pieces fall into place: failed diplomacy, a country that has not lived up to its "nuclear obligations", a new START treaty which allows for a new streamlined nuclear arsenal, and finally an NPR with specific verbiage allowing for the use of nuclear weapons against a country that violates the NPT.  All the pieces are there for a U.S. first strike nuclear attack on strategic Iranian targets.  This is the more realistic worst case scenario I believe we should all be taking a serious look at in the context of the new NPR and the subsequent statements by our Administration.  Better yet, taking action by speaking out would be even more helpful.


No matter what our sentiments toward the current Iranian regime, nuclear threats or nuclear attack are definitely not an effective way to resolve the differences between the U.S. and Iran.  Furthermore, it is simply unacceptable for any civilized country in the 21st century to threaten another with a nuclear attack.  So I strongly feel we should think long and hard about this new escalation of U.S. military threats in light of our current wars and act to diffuse the situation in every way possible before the U.S. or its allies embark on another misguided, immoral attack with potentially even more devastating consequences than we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.


About the author: Paul Fogarty is an Iranian American raised in Berkeley, California who is now living in Bay Area.  After attending UC Berkeley, Paul moved to Silicon Valley and has been working as an engineer in the computer high tech industry for over ten years.

... Payvand News - 04/20/10 ... --

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