Chuck Spinney: Wanna Bomb Iran?: No Worries — Think Fukushima X 10 — Good-Bye Dubai, End of Gulf States — With Compelling Graphics

04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 05 Iran, 06 Genocide, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Proliferation, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Transnational Crime, Corruption, Government, Idiocy, Ineptitude, IO Deeds of War, Military, Officers Call
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney

It is a brutal fact that no country benefited more from war during in the 2oth Century than the United States. World War I enriched and invigorated the US economy, and the self destruction of the 19th Century European state system left the US as the world’s mightiest industrial power.  World War II ended the Great Depression, put the US on a pathway to unparalleled world military power, and set the stage a long economic boom that created a rich middle class that, not withstanding its recent hardening of the arteries, remains unprecedented in world history.  Pearl Harbour excepted, neither war visited any significant destruction on the American homeland.

While we think of war in terms of our sacrifices, it may surprise readers to learn that the United States suffered fewer military deaths in WWII than Yugoslavia, an allied country not usually thought of in the NASCAR mentality of the United States as being a major player that war. In fact, hundreds of millions of people — mostly civilians — died in the wars (and their aftermath) of the 20th Century, while the United States in comparison paid a relatively minor price in lives lost and a vanishingly small price in terms of material destruction wrought at home.

Indeed the most traumatic material destruction and highest number of civilian deaths suffered on the US mainland since the dawn of the unprecedented state violence of the 20th Century were caused by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September of 2001 (the nearby NYSE was closed for only a week and the Pentagon never shut down).  While horrific and psychologically devastating in themselves, these attacks were a horrendous crime, not an act of war.

Moreover, when viewed in the grand sweep of the preceding 100 years, the material and human destruction of 9-11 was pinprick compared to that visited on the trenches in Flanders, the Somme, and Verdun, the cities of Nanking and Warsaw, London and Coventry, Hamburg and Berlin and Dresden,  Leningrad and Stalingrad and Minsk, or in the fire bombing raids on  Tokyo, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the now forgotten destruction of every city in North Korea, of millions of civilians killed by bombing (and sanctions) in North Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.  Even casual readers of history know this summary just scratches the surface of carnage wrought by 20 Century warfare — carnage which, by the grace of good fortune, pretty much bypassed the people and land of the United States.  Perhaps some American even think this good fortune is a kind of entitlement.  Is it not surprising that President Bush’s call on the American people to keep consuming and living the good life when he asked Congress to authorize a global war of terror in our national response to the crime of 9-11 was so well received?

None of these facts denigrates the bravery and sacrifice of the American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who fought and died in the wars of the last 100 years, but they are facts nevertheless, and they provide a backdrop against which the strength our national character is measured by others.

Nor should we be surprised, given this history of good fortune, that many leaders and opinion makers in America, especially strategic wannabees like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina or the armchair strategists in the Heritage Foundation (which receives a lot of grant money from arms merchants who benefit from war), treat war as a cavalier endeavor.  Nothing typifies this cavalier attitude so much today as the loose talk about bombing Iran’s nuclear reactors (unless it be an intervention in Syria).  The attached essay puts this kind of warmongering talk into a perspective appropriate to those who, unlike most Americans during the 20th Century, would be on the receiving end of such an attack.

Chuck Spinney

Good-bye Dubai? 

Bombing Iran’’s Nuclear Facilities Would Leave the Entire Gulf States Region Virtually Uninhabitable

By Wade Stone

Global Research, May 11, 2013

Sandstorm hitting Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2012

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”― Friedrich Nietzsche

Every spring and summer, during a period of low pressure over the Persian Gulf, powerful winds known as the “shamals and sharqi,” sweep down from the north and north east into Saudi Arabia, whipping up ever more grains of sand as they head south and south west across the Arabian Desert. Frequently, these sandstorms become gargantuan in size –– hundreds of meters high and kilometers wide and in length of dense roiling particulate, choking the lungs of those exposed, blocking out the sun completely and, by the time they are over, burying whole towns, sometimes even large cities like Riyadh, in a meter deep or more of sand.

The wind speeds range from 30 to 300 kilometers per hour, and they generally take a semi-circular route, heading back out to the southern gulf and the remaining Gulf States. Indeed, on an annual basis all of the Gulf States combined – UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, suffer through literally hundreds of such sand and dust storms. And most often the winds driving those sandstorms originate from the north and north east (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and sometimes even Turkey).

NASA satellite image of typical shamal wind directions

Below is a map showing the location of Iran’s nuclear facilities and uranium mines. Now look again at the previous NASA satellite image and note the primary shamal wind direction.

Think “Fukushima x 10”: Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would leave the entire Gulf State region virtually uninhabitable.

Fukushima is, without question, the world’’s worst nuclear disaster to date. In fact, many scientists believe, and with good reason, that the Fukushima incident, which is far from over, is the world’’s worst environmental catastrophe.


“While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, which resulted in almost one million deaths (New Book Concludes – Chernobyl death toll: 985,000, mostly from cancer” Global Research, September 10, 2010. For a full account of Fukushima, see “Global Research Online Interactive Reader Series, Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War, The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation (Michel Chossudovsky, editor).

Now imagine several large nuclear reactors (Iran’’s Bushehr reactor output, for example, is 1000 megawatts, compared to Fukushima Daiichi’’s largest reactor, which had an output of 784 megawatts), along with several uranium enrichment plants, and certainly military storage sites and quite likely even uranium mines, all bombed to dust within a matter of days. Moreover, unlike the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, which suffered only partial meltdowns with much of the fuel rods and spent fuel storages remaining mostly intact, “all” of Iran’’s nuclear fuel would be exploded into the atmosphere. And let us not forget that the US-Israeli military ordinance employed to destroy Iran’’s nuclear facilities would certainly be tipped with depleted uranium, and very likely would include some mini-nukes.

Indeed, in regard to nuclear disasters and environmental catastrophes, Fukushima would absolutely pale in comparison to that caused by the bombing of Iran’’s nuclear sites. The nuclear fallout from such an event would be extreme, to put it mildly. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranians would likely die within the first year of such a strike, while millions more would die within a decade or two of some form of radiation-induced cancer. And since a significant portion of that nuclear fallout would end up either immediately, or over the course of the next weeks and months in the Arabian Desert, where the winds, year after year, would gather it up along with the particles of sand and dust into gigantic roiling irradiated storms (remember, “hundreds” of such sand and dust storms annually), not a person living anywhere in the Gulf State region would be safe from exposure. The Persian Gulf, too, would soon be so irradiated and toxic and lifeless that it might as well be renamed the New Dead Sea.

Some statistics worth recalling: The half-life of cesium-137 is just over 31 years, while that of strontium-90 is approximately 29 years. Plutonium-239, the most dangerous of the above-mentioned radioactive substances, has a half-life of 24,110 years. And uranium, which is the primary target and which will make up the largest percentage of the fallout, has a half-life ranging between 700 million to nearly 4.5 billion years, depending on the type of uranium used — —U-235 or U-238. It’’s also worth noting that it takes an estimated 20 x the half-life years listed for the radiation from such contamination to dissipate entirely.

Of course, a lot of that radiation would also enter the jet stream, which would then carry it around the globe, depositing it as nuclear fallout everywhere. No nation, no body of water, would be spared. It takes but “one” inhaled or ingested “hot” particle to produce a life-threatening cancer.

Calling for, even so much as contemplating, such a genocidal event is madness; actually carrying it out would be insanity beyond description.

We must conclude, therefore, that the US-NATO-Israeli alliance is bluffing. Shortly before each and every scheduled P5+1 negotiation regarding Iran’’s nuclear program, the corporate/government controlled mainstream media in the West ratchets up the threats, with Israel insisting that they will soon bomb Iran’’s nuclear facilities if their nuclear program isn’’t shut down. We’’ve been hearing these same threats for more than a decade now. The very fact that the other Gulf States in the region are in support of the US-NATO-Israeli alliance also suggests that such threats are all smoke-and-mirrors, attempts to scare Iran into accepting whatever demands US-NATO and Israel want.

Surely, the Gulf State monarchs especially are aware enough to realize that, even if Iran is planning to develop a nuclear weapon (for which no evidence whatsoever exists), a nuclear-armed Iran would be far less of a danger to them than a bombing of Iran’’s nuclear facilities, which would positively guarantee their demise. Even Israel, which is only 1100 kilometers away from Iran, and also experiences regular severe sand and dust storms, would likely suffer dire consequences as a result of the radiation fallout from such an attack.

Has such absolute insanity infected the minds of the Western powers to such a degree that they actually would attack Iran, and in so doing destroy the entire Gulf State region, further irradiate the entire planet and themselves, and quite possibly set off World War III? Or is it all just smoke-and-mirrors, scare tactics and rhetoric, and saner minds will in fact prevail?

Let us all hope and pray for the latter.