The world can no longer ignore the threat posed by Iran.
Although most of the world press has done an admirable job reporting on the developments of the Iranian nuclear program, the threat to both Israel and the world that Iran presents cannot be understated. This special report has been produced as a resource to use when discussing the Iran threat. It is currently unclear what actions, diplomatic or military, will eventually be used to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Nonetheless, everyone should be aware of the threat and Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.
IRANIAN POLICY -- NO MORE ISRAEL
Time and time again, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that Israel should not exist. Moreover, he has done so with no significant domestic dissent. When the leader of a sovereign nation makes unequivocal statements without domestic opposition, those statements serve as the basis of national policy. It is critical to note that Ahmadinejad's statements go beyond opposition to Israeli policies, he is speaking of Israel's very existence.
In 2005, much of the media reported his call for Israel (actually the "Zionist regime" since Iran refuses to use the word "Israel") to be "wiped off the face of the map" in a keynote address to the Iranian-government sponsored "World without Zionism" conference. Such sponsorship is, in itself, incitement to genocide. Neither the United States, Israel, or any other nation has ever sponsored a conference themed on the destruction of another country.
There are those who say that Ahmadinejad was misquoted. Yet in a June 11, 2006 analysis, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner concluded that:
translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the (Iranian) foreign ministry disagree with (those who say he was misquoted). All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement refer to wiping Israel away.
At other times, Ahmadinejad has said:
- "The real cure for the conflict is elimination of the Zionist regime."
- "The way to peace in the Middle East is the destruction of Israel."
- "Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation."
- "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm." (For sources of these quotes and more, see The Israel Project, Iran's Leaders: In their own words.")
In addition, almost all senior leaders of Iran have made similar statements. What is especially alarming is that these statements are not aimed at Israeli policies, but rather at the nation of Israel as a whole. As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has pointed out in its "Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide" (worth reading in it's entirety):
It is essential to distinguish between freedom to oppose a government and incitement to genocide. Verbal barrages (against a government) pose no existential threat to ordinary people in the street. Ahmadinejad's reckless anti-Semitic tirades that "the Jews are very filthy people,""[the Jews have] inflicted the most damage on the human race," "[the Jews are] a bunch of bloodthirsty barbarians," "they should know that they are nearing the last days of their lives," and "as the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map" should have aroused trepidation. His apocalyptic utterances are not mere rhetoric. Ahmadinejad's declaration that the Holocaust was a "fairy tale," and his enabling of Hamas and Hizbullah, demonstrate that there is simply no way for his ambitions to be realized without perpetrating a new genocide.
IRAN'S POLICY -- DEVELOPMENT OF LONG RANGE MISSILES
Years before the current controversy involving Iran's attempts to develop nuclear power and (according to almost all experts) nuclear weapons, Iran invested heavily in the acquisition of long range missile systems. When coupled with nuclear warheads, these missiles would give Iran the ability to threaten countries far from its borders. According to Uzi Rubin, a prominent military analyst:
The Iranians are pursuing the most intensive missile program in the Third World, with constantly increasing ranges.
The Iranian Shahab 3 missile (domestically produced within Iran) can threaten either Tel Aviv or Riyadh from the same launch point. The newer Shahab 3ER, with its 2,000 km range, can reach Ankara in Turkey, Alexandria in Egypt, or Sanaa in Yemen from one single launch point deep within Iran. Thus, Iran does not have to move its launchers to project power, making its missile arsenal more survivable.
Yet even this missile does not appear to be enough for Iran. According to the Washington Times:
In January (2006), the German magazine Bild reported that Iran purchased 18 BM-25 land-mobile missiles from North Korea. The BM-25 is a variation of the SS-N-6, a Soviet-made submarine-launched ballistic missile, with a range of up to 1,800 miles. The BM-25, according to Mr. Rubin, "is a nuclear missile...There is no other warhead for this other than a nuclear warhead." The Iranian missile threat is clearly growing. (See also Defense News).
Finally, Iran's ultimate goal seems to be the ability to strike anywhere, including the United States. The Center for Strategic and International Studies took a look at Iranian research plans. They noted that:
...Iran is attempting to create a Shahab-5 and a Shahab-6, with a 3,000-5,000 kilometer range. These missiles would be three-stage rockets. If completed, the Shahab-5 and the Shahab-6 would take Iran into the realm of limited range ICBM's, and enable Iran to target the US eastern seaboard.
IRAN POLICY -- DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER/WEAPONS
Iran's efforts are clearly aimed at the production of nuclear weapons. Iran's declarations that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes lacks any credibility. In August of 2004, former U.S. Representative to the United Nations John Bolton testified that:
Cover stories put forward by Iran for the development of a nuclear fuel cycle and for individual facilities are simply not credible. For example, Iran is making an enormous investment in facilities to mine, process, and enrich uranium, and says it needs to make its own reactor fuel because it cannot count on foreign supplies. But for at least the next decade Iran will have at most a single nuclear power reactor. In addition, Iran does not have enough indigenous uranium resources to fuel even one power-generating reactor over its lifetime -- though it has quite enough uranium to make several nuclear bombs. We are being asked to believe that Iran is building uranium enrichment capacity to make fuel for reactors that do not exist from uranium Iran does not have.
THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE
While even the "smallest" nuclear attack anywhere is an unimaginable horror, because of its size and population, it would be almost impossible for the country of Israel to survive a single nuclear attack.
The following is an account of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, considered primitive and tiny compared to modern nuclear weapons.
The bomb exploded about 600 meters (2,000 ft) above the city with a blast equivalent to about 13 kilotons of TNT (the U-235 weapon was considered very inefficient, with only 1.38% of its material fissioning), instantly killing at least an estimated 90,000 people. The radius of total destruction was about 1.6 km (1 mile), with resulting fires across 11.4 square km (4.4 square miles). Infrastructure damage was estimated at 90% of Hiroshima's buildings being either damaged or completely destroyed.
Such an attack, again using one of the smallest and least effective nuclear weapons, would destroy almost the entire area pictured and could result in the deaths of most of the 1,190,000 people who live within the Tel Aviv metropolitan district.
Furthermore, radioactive fall-out would spread rapidly not only to all parts of Israel, but across the Middle East and even to Europe with certain wind conditions. The world's economies would be devastated and millions of people would become instant refugees.
IRAN -- A THREAT TO ISRAEL AND THE WORLD
The destruction of Israel is a stated goal of the government of Iran. In light of Iran's relentless drive to acquire nuclear weapons, it is clear that action must be taken to avert the threat. Since ensuring survival is the prime obligation of a sovereign state towards its own citizens, diplomatic or other actions against Iran should be considered legitimate acts of self-defense and supported by the world community.
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