Go Ahead On – Start WWIII

A couple of weeks ago, Russian President Putin made a historic visit to Iran, nominally to attend a summit of the Caspian Sea littoral states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran.

The summit, itself, resulted in a number of “milestone” agreements, including one prohibiting other countries (such as the United States) from using – “in any circumstances” – territory or facilities of any Caspian Sea littoral state (such as Azerbaijan) for "use of force or aggression" against another (such as Iran).

And if that message wasn’t clear enough, Putin also met privately with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, declaring afterwards in a joint press conference that “Iran is an important regional and global power.”

Putin also took the opportunity to tell the world that he had seen no "evidence" – Director-General ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency hasn’t even found an "indication" – that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Therefore, Russia would go ahead and complete the IAEA Safeguarded nuclear power plant at Bushehr.

Talk about pinning the tail on Bush’s donkey with a nail-gun.

But, protested Bush, who had just been told by Putin that he wouldn’t even be allowed to launch a "surgical" attack – much less another war of aggression – against Iran from our "temporary" air base in Azerbaijan,

"We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel.”

(That’s a lie, of course. Ahmadinejad has never made such an announcement.)

As Bush must know, even if Ahmadinejad wanted to merely effect regime change in Israel – much less destroy the country – he couldn’t. Iran’s President is not – even in time of war – commander-in-chief of the Iranian armed forces. Or even of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Condi-baby has just designated to be somehow involved in "nuclear proliferation."

Of course, in time of wars declared by our Congress, our President is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. And Bush believes – or acts as if he believes – our Congress has declared war on anyone Bush "determines" to be a terrorist or on any state Bush "determines" to be a supporter of terrorists.

So, quoth Bush,

“I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (the Iranians) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

It’s frequently difficult – sometimes impossible – to make sense of Bush’s pronouncements.

But apparently, Bush recently told Russian President Putin that World War III could result not because Iran allegedly has nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel, or not because Iran has the capability of making the fissile material absolutely necessary for making nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel, or not even because Iran allegedly wants to make nukes with which to allegedly attack Israel.

Taking Bush literally, all it will take for the Israelis or the United States to attack Iran, risking WWIII – with the United States and Israel on one side and Russia and China on the other – is some indication that some Iranians know how to make a nuke [.pdf].

Now, Putin has frequently expressed his opposition to the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons. But, Putin has repeatedly expressed his support for the "inalienable right" (guaranteed by the NPT) to the use of atomic energy by the Iranians, for peaceful purposes, to be verified by the IAEA.

The Israelis – on the other hand – have repeatedly expressed their outrageous view that the capability of enriching the Uranium-235 content of large amounts of natural uranium to any level is tantamount to having the capability to make a nuclear weapon.

Are they serious?

Well, back in 1981 Israel “took out” Osiraq, a French-built IAEA-safeguarded research reactor, apparently because they had concluded that Saddam Hussein expected Osiraq – in lieu of the Tooth Fairy – to miraculously leave a few nuclear weapons under his pillow.

Since 1991, thanks to the IAEA, the whole world has known that Saddam began his quest for nuclear weapons as a direct result of the Israeli raid on his IAEA Safeguarded research reactor.

Here are excerpts from UN Security Council Resolution 487 condemning the Israeli pre-emptive strike.

“Fully aware of the fact that Iraq has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since it came into force in 1970, that, in accordance with that treaty, Iraq has accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear activities, and that the agency has testified that these safeguards have been satisfactorily applied to date;

“Strongly condemns the military attack by Israel – in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct;

“Calls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof;

“Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime, which is the foundation of the non-proliferation treaty.”

Now, Bush the Younger has apparently adopted the equally idiotic and outrageously inflammatory view of the Israelis about Iran’s IAEA Safeguarded programs.

Nevertheless, it was something of a surprise when Zogby America’s latest poll of likely voters revealed that 52 percent "would support a US military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon."

Worse still, according to Zogby, 53 percent believe it is "likely" that the United States will be "involved" in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election.

It’s too bad Zogby didn’t phrase the first question this way;

"Given that the IAEA continues to verify that Iran is engaged in the pursuit of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as is their "inalienable right" as a signatory to the NPT;

    • Would you support a US or Israeli strike – in violation of the UN Charter – against Iran’s IAEA Safeguarded nuclear facilities, including the nuclear power plant nearing completion by the Russians at Bushehr?
    • Would you support such a strike even if it resulted in World War III, with US-Israel on one side, and Russia-China-Islam on the other?"

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.