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August 2, 2008

Nukes and Holocausts


by Gordon Prather

In 1939, a group of Hungarian-born physicists – including Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner – persuaded Einstein to write President Roosevelt, bringing to his attention the possibility that recent scientific discoveries, by Lise Meitner and others still in Europe, could result in "extremely powerful bombs of a new type."

Roosevelt was interested enough to meet several times with Einstein's emissaries (Einstein, himself, spoke very little English) who convinced FDR that if we did not develop such bombs before the Nazis did, they would "blow us up."

Six months after FDR imposed a blockade on Japan – similar to the one The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy wants Bush to impose on Iran – the Japanese attempted to destroy our blockade fleet in the Philippine and Hawaiian islands and elsewhere, and a few days after that, Adolph Hitler obliged FDR by declaring war on America.

Our Manhattan Project – to develop nuclear-fission weapons – was established in the summer of 1942.

As it happens, the Nazi's effort to develop such a bomb (which never got anything like the priority of the Manhattan Project) was hampered by Hitler's view that it probably could not succeed, certainly not in time for use in his Operation Barbarossa, launched in September of 1941, which he expected to win in a year or two, at most.

But the Soviet Union effectively won their Great Patriotic War against Hitler at Kursk, in the summer of 1943.

And, by late1944, most of the European ιmigrι scientists – as a result of contacts with their former colleagues – had concluded that the German nuclear-fission weapons program had never got off the ground.

So, as soon as it became known within the Manhattan Project that the bomb would be used against the Japanese and not the Nazis, more than a few scientists left the project and some – notably instigator Leo Szilard – even began to oppose it, as a "terrible mistake."

After the war, we conducted extensive tests of rapidly improving designs of fission weapons and documented the blast and thermal radiation effects of such weapons.

A terrible thing, indeed.

You might have thought that Israel, of all countries, would have been in the forefront of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of such weapons.

But, No! Israel has refused even to become a signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. None of Israel's nuclear programs are subject to the Safeguards and Physical Security System of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Then, on June 7, 1981, the Israelis "took out" Osiraq, a small French-built research reactor, which was IAEA Safeguarded, apparently because the Israelis had concluded that Osiraq – rather than the Tooth Fairy – would miraculously leave a few nuclear weapons under Saddam Hussein's pillow.

According to an official Israeli statement;

"The atomic bombs which that reactor was capable of producing – whether from enriched uranium or from plutonium – would be of the Hiroshima size. Thus a mortal danger to the people of Israel progressively arose."

Of course, Osiraq could never have produced , while IAEA-Safeguarded, weapons-grade plutonium and was not even capable of producing enriched uranium at all.

Furthermore, as the Security Council noted in UNSCR 487, passed in the immediate aftermath of the Israeli attack, it was;

"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;"

In 1981 we and the rest of the world "strongly" condemned the Israeli attack on IAEA Safeguarded facilities.

Then, in 1986, with the publication in The Sunday Times of the documentation (including photographs) provided them by the defector Mordecai Vanunu of Israel's underground "Machon 2" facility, which produced plutonium, lithium deuteride and beryllium, we learned that Israel already had a stockpile of very sophisticated nuclear weapons at the time of the Osiraq attack.

And, now, here we are, perhaps on the eve of the Israelis attempting to "take out" – with the almost explicit support of Bush-Cheney and The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy – all the IAEA Safeguarded facilities in Iran. And no "options" – including the use of nuclear weapons – are "off the table"!

A "senior defense official" told ABC News this summer that there is an "increasing likelihood" that Israel, itself, will carry out such an attack before Bush-Cheney leave office and identified two "red lines," which the Israelis will not "allow" the Iranians to cross.

The first, when in the estimation of the Israelis, Iran's uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz has produced enough weapons-grade uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

The Israelis – notwithstanding the fact that no highly-enriched uranium, much less weapons-grade enriched uranium, could be or would be allowed to be produced at any IAEA-safeguarded facility – believe that is likely to happen sometime in 2009, and could happen by the end of this year.

The second red line would be Iran achieving operational readiness of the SA-20 air defense system it is buying from Russia to protect its IAEA-Safeguarded facilities.

Quoth "senior defense official";

"The red line is not when they get to that point, but before they get to that point."

Everyone, most especially the Israelis, realize they can not "take out" all the IAEA Safeguarded facilities in Iran with conventional weapons.

But they could make a start, and then come to us with this threat – "either you finish the job for us, or we will, with nukes".

Well, we know that Bush-Cheney would do. As far as they're concerned, either Iran "voluntarily" gives up its alienable rights – affirmed under the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – to enrich uranium for use in peaceful applications, or Bush-Cheney will force them to.

And "no option is off the table," including our use of nuclear weapons.

But suppose the Israelis don't act until after Obama becomes President?

Obama reportedly told the House Democratic Caucus last week that "Nobody said this to me, directly, but I get the feeling from my talks [with Israeli leaders] that if the sanctions don't work, Israel is going to strike Iran".

Well, the sanctions are not going "to work."

Just last week 115 members of the Non-Aligned Movement issued a strongly worded declaration, expressing support for Iran's insistence upon pursuing "without discrimination" its "inalienable rights" – affirmed under the NPT – and deploring the misuse [by Bush-Cheney-Rice-Bolton] of the IAEA for political purposes and the involvement of the UN Security Council in matters not its concern under the UN Charter.

So, suppose President Obama refuses to "finish" the job the Israelis have started.

What then?

A Persian holocaust?


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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.

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