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Global Research Feature Article

The Unthinkable: The US- Israeli Nuclear War on Iran
Selected Global Research Articles

by Michel Chossudovsky (Editor)

Global Research, January 21, 2007

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, "a long war", which threatens the future of humanity.

At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable, a nuclear holocaust which could potentially spread, in terms of radioactive fallout,  over a large part of the Middle East.

There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration in liaison with Israel and NATO is planning the  launching of a nuclear war against Iran, ironically, in retaliation for its nonexistent nuclear weapons program. The US-Israeli military operation is said to be in "an advanced state of readiness". 

If such a plan were to be launched, the war would escalate and eventually engulf the entire Middle-East Central Asian region. 

The war could extend beyond the region, as some analysts  have suggested, ultimately leading us into a World War III scenario. 

In this regard, the structure of military alliances is crucial. China and Russia have entered into farreaching military cooperation agreements with Iran, which has a direct bearing on the conflict. Iran possesses an advanced air defense system as well as capabilities to target US and allied positions in Iraq and the Gulf States.

The US-led naval deployment involving a massive deployment of military hardware is taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean is broadly under the jurisdiction of NATO in liaison with Israel. Directed against Syria, it is conducted under the façade of a UN peace-keeping mission. In this context, the war on Lebanon must be viewed as a stage of a the broader US sponsored military road-map.

The naval armada in the Persian Gulf is largely under US command, with the participation of Canada.

The naval buildup is coordinated with the planned air attacks. The planning of the aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the stockpiling and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

Despite Pentagon statements which describe tactical nuclear weapons as "safe for the surrounding civilian populaiton", the use of nukes in a conventional war theater would trigger a nuclear holocaust.The resulting radioactive contamination would by no means be limited to the Middle East.

In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a contingency plan "to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States".
More recently, several analysts have focussed on the creation of a "Gulf of Tonkin incident", which would be used by the Bush adminstration as war pretext incident, namely a justification for waging war on Iran.

We bring to the attention of our readers a selection of Global Research articles, which document various aspects of US-Israeli war preparations.

It is essential that this information reaches the broader public. 
We invite are subscribers and readers to distribute and forward these articles far and wide.

To reverse the tide of war requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, schools, universities, municipalities, on the dangers of a US sponsored war, which contemplates the use of nuclear weapons. The message should be loud and clear: It is not Iran which is a threat to global security but the United States of America and Israel. 

Debate and discussion must also take place within the Military and Intelligence community, particularly with regard to the use of tactical nuclear weapons, within the corridors of the US Congress, in municipalities and at all levels of government. Ultimately, the legitimacy of the political and military actors in high office must be challenged.

There seems to be a reluctance by members of Congress to exercise their powers under the US Constitution, with a view to preventing the unthinkable: the onslaught of a US sponsored nuclear war. The consequences of  this inaction could have devastating consequences. Once the decision is taken at the political level, it will be very difficult to turn the clock backwards.

Moreover, the antiwar movement has not addressed the US sponsored nuclear threat on Iran in consistent  way, in part due to divsions within its ranks, in part due to lack of information. Moreover, a significant sector of the antiwar movement considers that the "threat of Islamic terrorism" is real. "We are against the war, but we support the war on terrorism."  This ambivalent stance ultmately serves to reinforce the legitimacy of the US national security doctrine which is predicated on waging the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT).

A this juncture, with the popularity of the Bush-Cheney regime at an all time low, a real opportunity exists to initiate an impeachment process, which could contribute to temporarly stalling the military agenda.

The corporate media also bears a heavy responsibility for the cover-up of US sponsored war crimes. Until recently these war preparations involving the use of nuclear weapons has be scarcely covered by the corporate media. The latter must also be forcefully challenged for its biased coverage of the Middle East war.

What is needed is to break the conspiracy of silence, expose the media lies and distortions, confront the criminal nature of the US Administration and of those governments which support it, its war agenda as well as its so-called "Homeland Security agenda" which has already defined the contours of a police State.

It is essential to bring the US-Israeli war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America, Western Europe and Israel. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 20 January 2007

Selected Articles on the Proposed US-Israeli Nuclear War on Iran

US military strike on Iran seen by April '07; Sea-launched attack to hit oil, N-sites
- by Ahmed Al-Jarallah - 2007-01-15

Nuclear War on Iran
Detailed review first published in January 2006
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2007-01-07

Bush administration provokes open war on Iran
Irbil raid, and other operations, authorized "several months ago"
- by Larry Chin - 2007-01-15

Planned US-Israeli Nuclear Attack on Iran
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2007-01-07

Immediate Impeachments: Preventing "The Guns of August" in Eurasia
- by Prof. Francis Boyle - 2007-01-20
If Bush and Cheney are not stopped immediately by means of impeachment, they could readily set off World War III in the volatile Middle East and Central Asia.

Israel’s plans to Wage Nuclear War on Iran: History of Israel's Nuclear Arsenal
Hundreds of nuclear warheads under the control of Israel's defense establishment
- by Michael Carmichael - 2007-01-15

Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust?.
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2007-01-07
The new nuclear doctrine turns concepts & realities upside down. It states that nuclear weapons are "safe" and their use will ensure "minimal collateral damage
Iran: Pieces in Place for Escalation
- by Colonel Sam Gardiner - 2007-01-16
The pieces are moving. They’ll be in place by the end of February. The media will begin to release stories to sell a strike against Iran. Watch for the outrage stuff.

The "Demonization" of Muslims and the Battle for Oil
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2007-01-04
Muslim countries possess three quarters of the World's oil reserves. In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves.

"Cold War Shivers": War Preparations in the Middle East and Central Asia
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2006-10-06
The Russian, Chinese and Iran war exercises conducted since August are part of a carefully coordinated endeavor, in response to the US-NATO military build-up
Iran's President Did Not Say "Israel must be wiped off the map"
- by Arash Norouzi - 2007-01-20
Across the world, through media disinformation, a dangerous rumor has spread that could have catastrophic implications
The March to War: Naval build-up in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - 2006-10-01
A powerful naval armada has been sent to the Persian Gulf.
The March to War: Iran Preparing for US Air Attacks
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - 2006-09-21
An attack on Iran would engulf the entire Middle East and Central Asian region into an extensive confrontation.
The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2006-02-17
The Pentagon has blurred the distinction between conventional battlefield weapons & nuclear bombs. The nuclear bunker buster bomb is presented as an instrument of peace-making & regime change, which will enhance global security.
Looking for a Gulf of Tonkin-like Incident
- by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay - 2007-01-21
How Congress Can Stop the Iran Attack or be Complicit in Nuclear War Crimes
- by Prof. Jorge Hirsch - 2007-01-20

Planned Attack on Iran: Bush Will Expand War Before Blair Resigns
US timetable driven by retirement of Bush’s major ally, PM Tony Blair
- by Michael Carmichael - 2007-01-16

Secret "agreement of principles" between Israel and Syria
What implications for US-Israeli war on Iran?

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Posted: Jan 21, 2007 5:51pm
Mar 16, 2006
by Stephen M. Osborn

March 14, 2006

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            The latest information I have had from the followers of Bush is that he has demanded and received permission to use nuclear "bunker busters" in Iran in a preemptive strike. As a nuclear veteran (Operation Redwing, Bikini, 1956) I can affirm that this is absolute madness. The "bunker buster" is a cute sounding name for a nuclear horror. Air bursts are horrible enough, doing incredible destruction through heat, shock and high initial radiation. The fallout from an air burst is registered around the world. A surface or subsurface burst is even deadlier and more long lasting.

            The Castle-Bravo blast at Bikini in 1954 was a fifteen megaton surface blast. It blew a hole over a mile wide and four hundred feet deep in the atoll, completely obliterating the island and vaporizing over thirteen billion cubic feet of coral, rock and water, sending it in a radioactive cloud extending into the stratosphere. The fallout over the atolls downwind was devastating to the people and ecology there. All of that material is rendered extremely radioactive and as it cools it condenses to fall as rain or radioactive "snow" which contaminates everything it touches. The effects are felt worldwide.

            Firing der Bush's bunker busters in Iran, or anywhere else for that matter, will vaporize hundreds of thousands of tons of earth, water and rock and send this radioactive soup downwind to kill and sicken whole populations. Those immediately downwind will die quickly, in hours or days. Those further downwind will take longer. The global incidences of cancers and disease will again rise markedly. The land downwind will remain contaminated and unusable for generations. If there were deep shelters, it has been postulated by the designers that the bunker busters would not penetrate deeply enough to affect them. I imagine that would initiate the attack theory of sending one nuke after another into the same hole. Picture the intensity of the radioactive disaster that would perpetrate on the area.

            There are not too many of us left that witnessed the tests, but there are a number of groups that monitor the effects through cancers, birth defects, both physical and mental and monitoring of contamination in the environment. We are still feeling the results of those tests. I have exchanged e-mails with downwinders and with the children of downwinders who have had children with birth defects that had no previous history of such things in their families; who suffer from cancers that are peculiar to nuclear radiation.

            Now we are facing the specter of Depleted Uranium, which is turning up in atmospheric filters around the world. Depleted Uranium is a nuclear byproduct of the nuclear industry. It is a low level radioactive material of extreme density. The half life of DU is 4.5 billion years. Workers in DU have to wear full protective equipment and respirators. DU ammunition is extremely hard and dense. It penetrates armor like tissue paper, vaporizing and burning, leaving dust and particles as shrapnel to be ingested or breathed. DU is not what the public thinks of as a radioactive material. It only emits alpha and beta radiation. A piece of paper will stop it. However, when it is in the lungs or elsewhere in the body, it is in contact with living tissue, bombarding that tissue with low level radiation for the rest of your life and beyond. That radiation can lead to cancers, genetic damage and eventual death.

            Independent laboratories like Johns Hopkins have studied this and made predictions of the harm it can do. The government says, as it did with Agent Orange, "There is nothing to it, it is all in your head." Meanwhile, people continue to sicken and die and will for generations.

            Chernobyl was not a nuclear explosion. It was just a very hot, stubborn fire in nuclear fuel. Chernobyl and a huge surrounding area is uninhabitable for an estimated three to six hundred years. The fallout from Chernobyl contaminated food and livestock around Europe and Scandinavia for a long time, and the radiation is still traceable in the earth and some living things.

            I, and many thousands like me, worked for many years to end the nuclear threat. Treaties were drawn up and ratified. The Peaceful Uses of Space treaty which guaranteed that no nation would use space as a platform for making war. That treaty is now derided by the American Military Establishment as naive. We are ready to take full control of the space around earth to provide a high ground for attack on any "threat" to the United States hegemony. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was to keep nuclear weapon technology from spreading around the world. Der Bush has narrowed that down to anyone who could conceivably at some time in the future be a threat to American domination. Our "friends" can build what they want. We'll even help them. The Arms Reduction Treaty between us and the CCCP. That was a treaty to destroy nuclear weapons and delivery systems on a mutual basis, with observers from each country verifying the destruction. Der Bush and Putin decided to change that to putting the weapons in storage instead of destroying them. Storage means access by black marketeers who can bribe poorly paid security guards and remove weapons and weapon grade material for resale to the highest bidder.

            Treaties mean nothing to this government, of course, if they interfere with profits or power. The Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners is ignored, the international conventions against torture are ignored, the tenets of our own Bill of Rights and Constitution guaranteeing privacy and freedom of _expression to its citizens are being canceled our by der Bush and his minions, the United Nations Charter is ignored or derided. The Kyoto Protocols on global warming and other studies are ignored by this administration as they interfere with short term profits.

            All of these breaches of humanity are overshadowed, however, by the possibility of our using nuclear weapons. The effects of that will be as earth shattering as global warming and pollution. This can be avoided very simply by not using them, the one thing we cannot count on der Bush doing unless we stop him by absolutely forbidding the use of nuclear weapons. Even better would be to forbid him from conducting so called "preemptive wars" with anybody who disagrees with him.

            Here are some links for those who wish to read a bit further into the subject.

            This is my page on the Atomic Veterans site. It contains writings on my nuclear experiences. Then explore the rest of the site.

            Downwinders are those who have been exposed to radiation through our testing both here and in the Pacific.

            There are a number of Chernobyl sites of interest, but these two really bring it home. Goes over the circumstances and effects of Chernobyl on the world. The Kiddofspeed site is the site of a courageous lady named Elena who has ridden her motorcycle through Chernobyl and its surroundings, photographing what she found there.

            Depleted Uranium is discussed at many sites including the following, Googling Depleted Uranium will give you about five million hits, many of them government apologia saying that DU is harmless, or nearly harmless. is the site of the Committee Against Depleted Uranium and well worth reading.

    Is a site on DU and Gulf War Syndrome, which also explores some of the problems with the manufacture of DU armaments to the ecology in the vicinity of the plants.

            Please, do your own reading on the subject, then insist that the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable for any reason. As one who has faced the nuclear dragon and survived, I can only say that "Ban the Bomb" is not just a slogan, it is a necessity.

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Posted: Mar 16, 2006 8:52pm
Feb 20, 2006
Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1985 by Yevgeny Chazov


Tragedy and Triumph of Reason

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues,

Physicist Leo Szilard, one of those who persuaded Albert Einstein to appeal to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to go on with the development of A-bomb, in his last years wrote science fiction stories. In one of them he describes newcomers from a distant star who arrived to find the cities and towns of Earth destroyed and devastated. One of the visitors recalled he had observed a series of enigmatic explosions on the planet Earth; these must have been uranium explosions, he suggested, which annihilated every living thing. Another member of the crew objected it could not be possible. Uranium by itself is not an explosive; a very sophisticated technology is required to make it explode. Only highly intelligent beings, however, could have known this technology and built beautiful cities. It is hard to believe they made all these efforts and processed uranium for self-destruction.

That was written by one of those who was instrumental in the creation of the two-faced Janus of the chain reaction capable of solving mankind's energy problem and at the same time being the basis of the weapon of genocide - the atom bomb.

Did you ever ponder upon the fact that the first active opponents of nuclear weapons were those who created or helped to develop it - Einstein, Szilard, Bohr, Joliot-Curie, Kurchatov and others?1 The atom bomb was created by the reason of these men, but that same reason rebelled against it.

In medical science arguments are going on between behaviorists who perceive the function of brain as a multitude of simple and unconscious conditioned reflexes, and cognitivists who insist that humans sensing the surrounding world create its mental image which can be considered as memory of facts.

I do not intend to argue the essence of these processes, all the more so because it has been proved that both types of memory function in the brain. However, I am convinced that those who once saw a nuclear explosion or imagined the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will forever maintain the mental picture of horror-stricken and dust-covered Earth, burned bodies of the dead and wounded and people slowly dying of radiation disease. Prompted by the sense of responsibility for the fortunes of the human race, Einstein addressed the following warning to his colleagues: "Since we, scientists, face the tragic lot of further increasing the murderous effectiveness of the means of destruction, it is our most solemn and noble duty to prevent the use of these weapons for the cruel ends they were designed to achieve".

Unfortunately, this appeal, like the warnings voiced by many leading scientists, has not reached the public conscience or the conscience of political and state figures. Nuclear arsenals on our planet have been increasing with every year, with every day. Ten new nuclear warheads appear daily on Earth now.

Put forward by some state and military figures, the theory of preserving peace through "deterrence" led to the situation where nuclear might transcended the limits of human perception. Indeed, no one in this audience can really imagine one million Hiroshimas - a statistic designed to depict figuratively the destructive power of nuclear weapons stockpiled today.

Keep in mind that when the first A-bomb was developed as a defense against Nazism, moral objections and conscience of scientists and many others involved were lulled by assurances that everything would be over after production of a few bombs.

Is not the same rationale applied today when they speak about the research objectives of the space militarization program, about its defensive significance? Can we not discern that it is an attempt to gradually make us accept the idea of weapons over our heads, in outer space? The minds of honest scientists, of all men, cannot be reconciled with turning the vicinity of our planet, so far weapons-free, into an arena of military competition. The "space shield" will mean one more step toward nuclear catastrophe, not only because it would create the temptation to effect a first strike with impunity, but because any defense will inevitably lead to the creation of the means to overcome it. Thus the spiral of the arms race - nuclear, conventional, laser and other - will again soar steeply undermining strategic stability.

The peril from space should not be underestimated. In the late 1940s humanity entered the military-nuclear era, which for the first time in history confronted the human civilization with the threat of total annihilation. Can we allow the 1980s to become the starting point of the military-nuclear-space era which would lead the present-day brinkmanship to utmost unsteadiness? It is time we say a decisive "NO" to the arms race in space and stop it on Earth.

We do not fully know the material basis of the brain function, we do not know whether adrenalin, acetylcholine or opioid peptides determine human senses and behavioral reactions. However, we do know (such is, unfortunately, the nature of human consciousness) that most people, absorbed by anxieties of everyday life and with solving their daily problems tend to forget the global problems of life on Earth which concern all of us, all inhabitants of our beautiful Planet - first of all the problem of the nuclear arms race and the threat of nuclear war. Many people, even if they think about it, regard it as some kind of a fairy tale.

Let us recall the situation as it was five years ago when three American and three Soviet physicians met in Geneva to decide jointly what physicians should do to prevent the "final epidemic" - nuclear war. Like the songs of sirens who lured Odysseys, soothing voices of state figures and military leaders, commentators and even some scientists were heard from parliaments and congresses, from TV screens and periodicals. They created and disseminated nuclear illusions to the effect that nuclear war is just another war (they added diffidently that it might involve a larger scale of destruction); that a limited nuclear war is possible; that nuclear ware is not only survivable but also winnable. One could even hear assertions that there are things more important than peace.

It is difficult for me to speak about the feelings of our American colleagues and friends, but we, Soviet physicians, who know what a devastating war is like, not from history textbooks but from our own experience, who together with all our people imbibed hatred to war - we were troubled by the indifference demonstrated by many people towards these irresponsible statements justifying the nuclear arms race. It was necessary to arouse the indifferent and turn them into active opponents of nuclear weapons. It was not simply our obligation as honest men, it was our professional duty. As Hippocrates said: the physician must inform the patient about every thing that threatens his life.

In our medical practice we not infrequently come across patients who are careless about their own health. In such cases we appeal to their reason. If I receive a patient who is a smoker suffering from endoarthritis, I will tell him that if he does not give up smoking the outcome might be lethal. Likewise, we, participants in our movement of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, appealed to the reason of humankind by drawing the real picture, without coloring the truth, of what would happen to our Earth if nuclear war is unleashed. In a way, it was a heroic deed on the part of tens of thousands of physicians from many countries of the world, adhering to different political and religious views and belonging to various nationalities, to raise their voice to defend life on Earth. We could not have acted otherwise. As Anton Chekhov2, a remarkable author and physician, wrote about our profession: "The profession of physicians is an exploit, it requires self-confirmation and purity of soul and thought. One should be mentally lucid and morally pure".

At the end of 1980 a meeting was held in Geneva, mentioned above, of Soviet and American physicians - Ilyin, Kuzin and myself, Lown, Muller and Chivian.3 In the course of a two-day discussion the representatives of the two countries that so often confront each other, were unanimous in supporting the creation of a broad-based international movement of physicians for the prevention of nuclear war. Despite their differences they came to the conclusion that physicians cannot and indeed have no right to stay silent and remain at the sidelines when the preservation of life and health of hundreds of millions is at stake.

Our movement, which has come to be called "International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War" has grown rapidly: physicians from 11 countries participated in its first international congress in the USA in 1981; the fifth congress in Budapest in 1985 attracted delegates from over 50 countries. The small group of Soviet and American physicians grew to become a multinational army of 145.000 activists, who devote their free time to research on the possible consequences of nuclear war and to explain the data obtained to governments, politicians, scientists, the public and international organizations.

Our annual congress and regional seminars constitute important milestones of this research and information activities, which mobilize world public opinion to act against the unprecedented threat in our civilization's history.

Over a million and a quarter physicians have signed the Amsterdam congress appeal against the nuclear arms race. We suggested the inclusion in the Hippocratic Oath a commitment to fight against the danger of a nuclear war (such an amendment has already been officially made to the Soviet physicians' oath)4. A "Message to My Patients" is distributed in hospitals, clinics and physicians' offices to help prevent nuclear war.

IPPNW is aware of the fact that wars start not from bombs dropped or shots fired - they start in the minds of people and are the result of political decisions. That is why our congresses regularly address world leaders, particularly of the USSR and the USA, calling upon them to do the utmost to exclude the very possibility of a nuclear war and to reverse the nuclear arms race. The messages received by us from these and other leaders show that the voice of physicians is being heeded.

We are aware that in order to eradicate nuclear illusions and impart hatred of war to the peoples, one should be based, like in our medical practice, on solid scientific data. I do not wish to dwell on the results of our studies confirmed by the authoritative expert group of the World Health Organization. Physicians have demonstrated to the whole world that not only would nuclear war spell the end of civilization, it would also prejudice the existence of life on Earth. My conscience, and I am sure the same applies to many of my colleagues in IPPNW, was staggered primarily by the total number of victims in nuclear war. The human mind finds it difficult to comprehend the figure of 2,000 million victims. As they say, one death is death, but a million deaths are statistics. For us, physicians, life is the aim of our work and each death is a tragedy. As people constantly involved in the care of patients, we felt the urge to warn governments and peoples that the critical point has been passed: medicine will be unable to render even minimal assistance to the victims of a nuclear conflict - the wounded, the burned, the sick - including the population of the country which unleashes nuclear war. Even rough estimates show it would require efforts of at least 30 million physicians, 100 million nurses and technical personnel. These, of course, are absolutely unrealistic figures. In the world today there are around 3.5 million physicians and about 7.5 million nurses. Treatment of a few hundred patients suffering from burns as a result of a major fire can rapidly exhaust the burn cure resources of a large city. Where, then, can the resources be found to treat thousands and millions of casualties? Physicians and hospitals will face an insoluble problem, even if we discount the appalling conditions of "nuclear winter" which is bound to cap the catastrophe. Besides, in a nuclear war many physicians and nurses will be killed and many hospitals destroyed.

Our data were widely circulated and produced a sobering effect the world over on a broad range of public, political and religious figures and common men who had underestimated the scale of a nuclear catastrophe. The threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons is being perceived by hundreds of millions on our planet. Of course a lot of people are still under a delusion, consciously or involuntarily, as regards the significance of the arms race and its proliferation to outer space. However, as Cicero put it, "Each man can err, but only fools persist in their errors".

Every morning tens of thousands of newly-born babies in Europe and America, in Asia and Africa for the first time see the sky and the sun, enjoy their mothers' loving care. We, physicians, are to protect their health and life. But what is there ahead for them? What will their life be like? Will they live to see the twenty-first century? There is a nuclear bomb in stock for each of them. Back in 1951 French author André Maurois aptly expressed the aspirations of all honest men on Earth. He wrote: "Are we really deprived of all hope? Will the wretched human race destroy itself together with the planet that harbored it? I believe the catastrophe can be avoided... Salvation of the humankind is in its own hands... The strength of our convictious, the promptness of our decisions will disarm those who threaten the future of humanity... Will the globe live or die - that is the choice we face. Either we join hands, or we exterminate each other in an atomic war".

These ideas are consonant with our views. Our intellect cannot be reconciled with the situation when the world is heading toward nuclear death. We physicians are neither politicians, nor military experts. However, we have analyzed the present uneasy situation thoroughly enough to suggest to governments our medical prescription for the survival of humankind. Our program has been elaborated, discussed and approved by IPPNW Congresses. It envisages a ban on tests of nuclear weapons and, as the initial step, a moratorium on nuclear explosions; a nuclear weapons freeze and the subsequent reduction and eventual liquidation of nuclear weapons; the non-proliferation of the arms race to outer space, no first use of nuclear weapons and the creation of an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.

It is not a political declaration of either communists or capitalists - it is what is demanded by reason, by people the world over who want to live. More than 400 years ago the Dutch thinker Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote about war: "By the way, what can be sillier than to join a competition for whatever reason, when each side would inevitably experience more awkwardness than it would receive benefits"5. Today we are talking not just about warring sides but about humanity at large. Any reasonable man finds it hard to believe that while hunger, diseases, social inequality, economic underdevelopment and illiteracy are in existence, hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted to feed the insatiable monster - the arms race.

On the other hand, I recall the days when the triumph of reason and political atmosphere of trust provided for close peaceful cooperation and joint studies by Soviet and American scientists. I cannot say about other spheres, but in cardiology, which is my province, this atmosphere contributed to accelerated study of such acute problems as atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, sudden death and arrhythmia and facilitated introduction of new methods of diagnosis and therapy. A space bridge discussion of Soviet and American scientists on the problem of prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis will take place in the near future. This discussion will acquaint scientists the world over with achievements in this field. These achievements make it possible to assert that the problem of atherosclerosis will be largely solved within the next ten years. It will be a commendable example of cooperation between the USSR and the USA for the benefit of the peoples of the world. It is a vital necessity to continue and extend this cooperation. What we need is cooperation, not confrontation. Therefore, I was deeply satisfied with the Soviet-American arrangement arrived at during the recent meeting in Geneva between General Secretary Gorbachev and President Reagan, to extend exchanges and contact in the field of medicine and, in particular, to resume cooperation in combating cancer diseases. We are ready for such cooperation.

Today is a meaningful and festive day for over 140,000 physicians from 41 nations, those who united in the movement of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. And not only for them but for all honest men and women dedicated to maintaining life on Earth as members of the most humane profession - medicine. The Nobel Prize awarded to our movement is not only a recognition of physicians' services in denouncing the nuclear illusions and promoting a true perception of nuclear weapons and effects of their use, but also a symbol of international trust and belief in the infinite value and uniqueness of the human mind. As Ibsen6 wrote in Peer Gynt "Only he who has nothing to lose in life can risk it". Nuclear war, unless it is prevented, would lead to the extinction of life on Earth and possibly in the Universe. Can we take such a risk?

In our medical practice when we deal with a critical patient in order to save him, we mobilize all our energies and knowledge, sacrifice part of our hearts and enlist the cooperation of our most experienced colleagues. Today we face a seriously ill humanity, torn apart by distrust and fear of nuclear war. To save it we must arouse the conscience of the world's peoples, cultivate hatred for nuclear weapons, repudiate egoism and chauvinism, and create favorable atmosphere of trust. In the nuclear age we are all interdependent. The Earth is our only common home which we cannot abandon. The new suicidal situation calls for the new thinking. We must convince those who take political decisions.

Our professional duty is to protect life on Earth. True to the Hippocratic Oath, physicians will dedicate their knowledge, their hearts and their lives to the happiness of their patients and the well-being of the peoples of the world.

1. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), American, born inGermany; LeoSzilard (1898-1964), American, born in Hungary; Niels Bohr (1885-1962) of Denmark; Fredéric Joliot-Curie (1900-1958) of France; Igor Kurchatov (1903-1960) of the Soviet Union.

2. Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian short story writer, dramatist and physician.

3. Dr. Leonid Ilyin, Director of the Institute of Biophysics of the Soviet Union; Dr. Mikhail Kuzin, Director of the Vishnevsky Institute of Surgery; Dr. James Muller of the Harvard Medical School, who had studied and done research in Moscow; and Dr. Eric Chivian, staff psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

4. Following the Nobel lectures, Dr. Dagmar Sørbøe of Norway led the assembled physicians in reciting the amended oath of Hippocrates:

Oath of Hippocrates

The regimen I adopt shall be for the benefit of my patients according to my ability and judgment, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked me, nor will I counsel such.

Whatsoever house I enter, there will I go for the benefit of the sick, refraining from all wrongdoing or corruption, and especially from any act of seduction, of male or female, of bond or free. Whatsoever things I see or hear concerning the life of men, in my attendance on the sick or even apart therefrom, which ought not to be noised abroad, I will keep silence thereon, counting such things to be as sacred secrets.

As a physician, I recognize that the only effective medical response to nuclear war is prevention. I believe that medical preparations for nuclear war increase its likelihood by strengthening the illusions of protection, survival, and recovery. Such measures promote the acceptability of a catastrophe which 1 will not accept. As a matter of individual conscience, I will refuse to participate in any medical preparations for nuclear war. I affirm my duty and willingness to provide care in all medical emergencies to the best of my ability. I commit myself to applying my medical knowledge and skills for the preservation of human life.

As a physician of the twentieth century, I recognize that nuclear weapons have presented my profession with a challenge of unprecedented proportions, and that a nuclear war would be the final epidemic for humankind. I will do all in my power to work for the prevention of nuclear war.

1. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), American, born in Germany; Leo Szilard (1898-1964), American, born in Hungary; Niels Bohr (1885-1962) of Denmark; Fredéric Joliot-Curie (1900-1958) of France; Igor Kurchatov (1903-1960) of the Soviet Union.

2. Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian short story writer, dramatist and physician.

3. Dr. Leonid Ilyin, Director of the Institute of Biophysics of the Soviet Union; Dr. Mikhail Kuzin, Director of the Vishnevsky Institute of Surgery; Dr. James Muller of the Harvard Medical
School, who had studied and done research in Moscow; and Dr. Eric Chivian, staff psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

4. Following the Nobel lectures, Dr. Dagmar Sørbøe of Norway led the assembled physicians in reciting the amended oath of Hippocrates:

Oath of Hippocrates

The regimen I adopt shall be for the benefit of my patients according to my ability and judgment, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked me, nor will I counsel such.

Whatsoever house I enter, there will I go for the benefit of the sick, refraining from all wrongdoing or corruption, and especially from any act of seduction, of male or female, of
bond or free. Whatsoever things I see or hear concerning the life of men, in my attendance on the sick or even apart therefrom, which ought not to be noised abroad, I will keep silence thereon, counting such things to be as sacred secrets.

As a physician, I recognize that the only effective medical response to nuclear war is prevention. I believe that medical preparations for nuclear war increase its likelihood by
strengthening the illusions of protection, survival, and recovery. Such measures promote the acceptability of a catastrophe which I will not accept. As a matter of individual conscience, I will refuse to participate in any medical preparations for nuclear war. I affirm my duty and willingness to provide care in all medical emergencies to the best of my ability. I commit myself to applying my medical knowledge and skills for the preservation of human life.

As a physician of the twentieth century, I recognize that nuclear weapons have presented my profession with a challenge of unprecedented proportions, and that a nuclear war would be the final epidemic for humankind. I will do all in my power to work for the prevention of nuclear war.

5. Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536), a Dutch humanist who wrote often on the folly and iniquity of war.

6. Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), the Norwegian dramatist and poet.


* * *


International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War – Nobel Lecture

Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1985 by Bernard Lown


A Prescription for Hope

When Alfred Nobel drafted his final will in late 1895, providing this enduring and monumental legacy, the world was charged with anticipation and optimism for the twentieth century. Mind and hand, the distinctive attributes of our species, were at last finding their intertwined fulfillment in science and technology. Science, at the "fin de siècle", promised mastery of a hostile environment and an end to chaotic societal relations punctuated by war and brutality. Advancing technology augured unlimited potential for human power, inspiring a dream for an end to drudgery and an age of abundance.

The hope of a benevolent civilization was shattered in the blood-soaked trenches of the First World War. The "war to end all wars" claimed sixteen million lives, and left embers which kindled an even more catastrophic conflagration.

Over the sorry course of 5,000 years of endless conflicts, some limits had been set on human savagery. Moral safeguards proscribed killing unarmed civilians and health workers, poisoning drinking waters, spreading infection among children and the disabled, and burning defenseless cities. But the Second World War introduced total war, unprincipled in method, unlimited in violence, and indiscriminate in victims. The ovens of Auschwitz and the atomic incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki inscribed a still darker chapter in the chronicle of human brutality. The prolonged agony which left 50 million dead did not provide an enduring basis for an armistice to barbarism. On the contrary, arsenals soon burgeoned with genocidal weapons equivalent to many thousands of World War II's.

The advent of the nuclear age posed an unprecedented question: not whether war would exact yet more lives but whether war would preclude human existence altogether.

Every historic period has had its Cassandras. Our era is the first in which prophecies of doom stem from objective scientific analyses. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, a study by American physicians concluded that medicine, which in past wars mitigated misery and saved lives, had nothing to offer following nuclear war. This conclusion was extrapolated from the destruction wrought by blast, fire and radiation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Astonishingly, nearly 40 years elapsed before scientists first discovered additional ecologic consequences. Nuclear war, they found, could blanket the sky with smoke, dust, and soot, creating a pall of all-pervasive darkness and frigid cold. The impact on climate could last for several years, not sparing the Southern Hemisphere.

But there is more. Since cities are enormous storehouses of combustible synthetics, raging fire storms would release into the air a Pandora's box of deadly toxins. When dust, poisons, and soot finally cleared, another plague would be visited on the unfortunate survivors; high levels of ultraviolet light caused by depletion of atmospheric ozone would take an additional toll.

Martin Buber1 suggested that evil prevailed because of the inability of man to imagine the real. Yet human beings do have that capacity. Lord Byron, a poet favored by Alfred Nobel, captured the stark essence of a post-nuclear world in his poem "Darkness":

"I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless; and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went - and came, and brought no day,...

All earth was but one thought - and that was Death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails - men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh.

The world was void,
The populous, and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless -
A lump of death - a chaos of hard clay...

And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them - She was the Universe!"

Byron composed this poem in 1816, known as the "year without a summer". Mt Tambora in the East Indies had erupted the year before, spewing 100 cubic kilometers of earth and rock into the atmosphere. The United States witnessed snow and ice in August. Worldwide crop failures induced mass starvation. A typhus epidemic in England, ascribed to cold and hunger, resulted in 65.000 deaths. The volcanic eruption lowered the earth's surface temperature by a mere 0.6 of a degree centigrade, A twenty-fold greater cooling of the Northern Hemisphere has been predicted for a nuclear winter.

This scenario may not constitute a complete appraisal of the dire biologic and ecologic aftermath. We know little or nothing of the synergistic effects on our fragile ecosystem of subfreezing temperatures, darkness, high levels of radiation, massive release of toxins, excessive ultraviolet emissions, and other events still unforeseen. It is sheer hybris to pretend that there would be human survival after such a man-made catastrophe.

We know, therefore, that a nuclear war must never occur. Is this merely a hope or a certainty?

As no national interest would justify inflicting genocide on the victim and suicide on the aggressor, a prevalent misconception is that nuclear war will never be fought. But the realities of our age compel an opposite assessment. In no previous epoch were adversaries so continuously and totally mobilized for instant war. It is a statistical certainly that hair-trigger readiness cannot endure as a permanent condition. Furthermore, the unrelenting growth in nuclear arsenals, the increasing accuracy of missiles, and the continuing computerization of response systems all promote instabilities which court nuclear war by technical malfunction; by miscalculation, human aberration or criminal act. The ever decreasing time between missile launch and nuclear detonation relegates critical decision-making to computers programmed by fallible human beings.

The possession of these weapons has been justified by the theory of deterrence. Such a view of human affairs has held sway throughout the ages. But the Roman adage si vis pacem, para bellum has been consistently a prelude to war, not a guarantor of peace. No more untenable view of human affairs has ever gained such widespread public acceptance. In order to be effective, nuclear deterrence must operate perfectly and forever. No such expectations are permissible for any human activities. The pretension to inhibit aggression by threatening to inflict unacceptable damage is jarred with contradictions. How is one to account for an overkill capacity equivalent to more than one million Hiroshimas? Would annihilation of only a few major cities not inflict unacceptable damage? A single modern submarine has approximately 8 times the total firepower of World War II, sufficient to destroy every major city in the Northern Hemisphere. Why then the stockpiling of 18.000 strategic weapons? In this race the runners are no longer in control of their limbs.

This buildup is like a cancer, the cells of which multiply because they have been genetically programmed to do no other. Pointing nuclear-tipped missiles at entire nations is an unprecedented act of moral depravity. The horror is obscured by its magnitude, by the sophistication of the means of slaughter, and by the aseptic Orwellian language crafted to describe the attack - "delivery vehicles" promote an "exchange" in which the death of untold millions is called "collateral damage". Bertrand Russell2 called attention to the ethical bankruptcy that afflicts this era: "Our world has sprouted a weird concept of security and a warped sense of morality. Weapons are sheltered like treasures while children are exposed to incineration".

How did we reach such a dangerous and tragic impasse? From the dawn of history the tools humans forged have imposed their laws on behavior. As tools were transformed into ever more complex machines, technology shaped our consciousness while providing mastery over our environment. This was not to be some Faustian bargain. Technology was intended to serve human interests, to enlarge the domain of freedom against life's compelling necessities. Increasingly, though, as Thoreau3 observed, "We are becoming the tools of our tools". Worse still, our tools are beginning to operate against our will and threaten our existence.

An additional misperception propels the arms race. Throughout human history, when confronted with what was deemed a deadly enemy, the fixed human response has been to gather more rocks, muskets, cannons, and now nuclear bombs. While nuclear weapons have no military utility - indeed they are not weapons but instruments of genocide-this essential truth is obscured by the notion of an "evil enemy". The "myth of the other", the stereotyping and demonizing of human beings beyond recognition, is still pervasive and now exacts inordinate economic, psychologic, and moral costs. The British physicist P.M.S. Blackett4 anticipated this state of paranoia: "Once a nation bases its security on an absolute weapon, such as the atom bomb, it becomes psychologically necessary to believe in an absolute enemy". The imagined enemy is eventually banished from the human family and reduced to an inanimate object whose annihilation loses all moral dimension.

The nuclear threat haunts our age. Among the first to alert humanity to the peril were the physicists who let the atomic genie out of the bottle. Interestingly, though, the public is beginning to listen not to the military experts but to the physicians who are the custodians of public health. Now it may be argued that nuclear war is a social and political issue and we may address it only as concerned citizens. But we physicians have taken a sacred and ancient oath to assuage human misery and preserve life. This commitment imposes social and moral obligations for us to band together, to make our collective voices heard.

Furthermore, the medical profession cannot remain quiet in the face of the increasing diversion of scarce resources to the military compared to the meager efforts devoted to combatting global poverty, malnutrition and disease. In 1984 world military spending exceeded 800,000 million dollars, or 100 million dollars every hour. This occurred at a time when life expectancy at birth in Africa is 30 years less than in Europe, when more than 40,000 children die daily from malnutrition and infection, when annually more than 3.5 million children die and an equal number are permanently crippled because they are denied inexpensive immunization. Two billion people have no access to a dependable and sanitary water supply. The litany of grief is long and painful to recite. Yet a single day's diversion of profligate military spending would diminish and even resolve many of these miseries. We are already living in the rubble of World War III.

How has International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) addressed the grim realities of the nuclear age? Remarkable is the youth of our endeavor. This week we celebrate only the fifth anniversary of our founding. In this brief time we have helped penetrate the fog of denial. We have persuaded millions of people, for the first time, to confront the unthinkable. We have exposed to public view the long list of horrors. We have convinced a large public that there can be no useful medical response. We have demonstrated the deception implicit in nuclear war civil defense preparations. We have provided persuasive data that nuclear war would constitute the ultimate human and ecologic disaster.

Perhaps the signal accomplishment of the IPPNW has been the broad-based, free-flowing dialogue between physicians of the two contending power blocs. We heed Einstein's words, "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding". In a world riven with confrontation and strife, IPPNW has become a model for cooperation among physicians from East and West, from North and South. Paranoid fantasies of a dehumanized adversary cannot withstand the common pursuit of healing and preventing illness. Our success in forging such cooperation derives largely from an insistent avoidance of linkage with problems that have embittered relations between the great powers. We have resisted being sidetracked to other issues, no matter how morally lofty. Combatting the nuclear threat has been our exclusive preoccupation, since we are dedicated to the proposition that to insure the conditions of life, we must prevent the conditions of death. Ultimately, we believe people must come to terms with the fact that the struggle is not between different national destinies, between opposing ideologies, but rather between catastrophe and survival. All nations share a linked destiny; nuclear weapons are their shared enemy.

The physicians' movement is contributing to a positive world outlook, rejecting the view that human life is merely the molecular unwinding of a dismal biologic clock. For the physician, whose role is to affirm life, optimism is a medical imperative. Even when the outcome is doubtful, a patient's hopeful attitude promotes well-being and frequently leads to recovery. Pessimism degrades the quality of life and jeopardizes the tomorrows yet to come. An affirmative world view is essential if we are to shape a more promising future.

The American poet Langston Hughes5 urged:

"Hold on to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken winged bird
And cannot fly."

We must hold fast to the dream that reason will prevail. The world today is full of anguish and dread. As great as is the danger, still greater is the opportunity. If science and technology have catapulted us to the brink of extinction, the same ingenuity has brought humankind to the boundary of an age of abundance.

Never before was it possible to feed all the hungry. Never before was it possible to shelter all the homeless. Never before was it possible to teach all the illiterates. Never before were we able to heal so many afflictions. For the first time science and medicine can diminish drudgery and pain.

Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible. But in order to do the impossible, in the words of Jonathan Schell6, we ask "not for our personal survival: we ask only that we be survived. We ask for assurance that when we die as individuals, as we know we must, mankind will live on".

When questioned on his approach to sculpture, Michelangelo replied that he simply cut away the stone surrounding his vision. We in the physicians' movement will not grow discouraged as we chip away at the granite mass if that obstructs our vision of a world freed from the specter of nuclear war.

If we are to succeed, this vision must possess millions of people. We must convince each generation that they are but transient passengers on this planet earth. It does not belong to them. They are not free to doom generations yet unborn. They are not at liberty to erase humanity's past nor dim its future. Only life itself can lay claim to sacred continuity. The magnitude of the danger and its imminence must bring the human family together in common pursuit of peace denied throughout the century. On the threshold of a new millennium the achievement of world peace is no longer remote, for it is beckoned by the unleashing of the deepest spiritual forces embedded in humankind when threatened with extinction. The reason, the creativeness, and the courage that human beings possess foster an abiding faith that what humanity creates, humanity can and will control.

1. Martin Buber (1878-1965), a Jewish philosopher born in Vienna, who taught in universities in Germany and Israel.

2. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), the British philosopher and mathematician who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.

3. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), the American author and naturalist.

4. Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett (1897-1974) of Great Britain won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1948.

5. Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance.

6. Jonathan Schell (1943- ) wrote about the world's "nuclear predicament" in The Fate of the Earth (New York: Knopf, 1982).

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Posted: Feb 20, 2006 5:06pm
Feb 17, 2006
This article elaborates on two earlier texts by the author:

"Current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the US nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power - a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current US nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years." (Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations)

The Bush administration's new nuclear doctrine contains specific "guidelines" which allow for "preemptive" nuclear strikes against "rogue enemies" which "possess" or are "developing" weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  (2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (DJNO) ).

The preemptive nuclear doctrine (DJNO), which applies to Iran and North Korea calls for "offensive and defensive integration". It explicitly allows the preemptive use of thermonuclear weapons in conventional war theaters.

In the showdown with Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons program, these Pentagon "guidelines" would allow, subject to presidential approval,  for the launching of punitive bombings using "mini-nukes" or tactical thermonuclear weapons.

While the "guidelines" do not exclude other (more deadly) categories of nukes in the US and/or Israeli nuclear arsenal, Pentagon "scenarios" in the Middle East are currently limited to the use of tactical nuclear weapons including the B-61-11 bunker buster bomb. This particular version of the bunker buster is a thermonuclear bomb,  a so-called Nuclear Earth Penetrator or NEP. It is a Weapon of Mass Destruction in the real sense of the word. Its utilization by the US or Israel in the Middle East war theater would trigger a nuclear holocaust.

B61-11 NEP Thermonuclear Bomb

History of the B61 Thermonuclear Bomb

The B-61 thermonuclear bomb, first produced in 1966, is described as a light weight nuclear device. Its construction essentially extends the technology of the older version of tactical nuclear warheads. (for further details see, .

The B61-11 earth-penetrating version of the B61 was developed in the immediate wake of the Cold War under the Clinton administration. It  was configured initially to have a "low" 10 kiloton yield, 66 percent of a Hiroshima bomb, for (post-Cold War) battlefield operations:

 "In October 1993, Harold Smith, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy, sought approval to develop an alternative to the B53 high-yield nuclear bomb, which was the principal "bunker buster" weapon in the U.S. arsenal. The B53 was also the heaviest payload nuke in use, weighing 8,900 pounds, and only deployable from the B-52 bombers. Under the guise of "weapons modernization," Smith was pushing the development of the B61-Mod 11.

... The B61-11 was developed and put into the stockpile without full-scale nuclear tests. Some critics have maintained that the B61-11 is a new nuclear weapon, but the US has said all along that the B61-11 is not new, but a modification of older B61s to give the weapon an earth-penetrating capability to destroy buried targets...."

The B61-11 was intended for the Middle East.  The Clinton administration had in fact threatened to use it  against Libya, suggesting that Libya's alleged underground chemical weapons facility at Tarhunah "might be a target of the then-newly deployed B61-11 earth-penetrating nuclear weapon." ( The Record (Bergen County, NJ) February 23, 2003)

Military documents distinguish between the NEP and the "mini-nuke" which are nuclear weapons with a yield of less than 10 kilotons (two thirds of a Hiroshima bomb). The NEP can have a yield of up to a 1000 kilotons, or seventy times a Hiroshima bomb.

This distinction between mini-nukes and NEPs is in many regard misleading. In practice there is no dividing line. We are broadly dealing with the same type of weaponry:  the B61-11 has several "available yields", ranging from  "low yields" of  less than one kiloton, to mid-range and up to the 1000 kiloton bomb. In all cases, the radioactive fallout is devastating.  Moreover, the B61 series of thermonuclear weapons includes several models with distinct specifications: the B61-11, the B61-3, B61- 4, B61-7 and B61-10. Each of these bombs has several "available yields".

What is contemplated for theater use is the "low yield" 10 kt bomb, two thirds of a Hiroshima bomb.

Mini-Nukes in Conventional War Theaters

There are indications that the Bush administration does not exclude using thermonuclear bunker buster bombs in the Middle East war theater. These weapons were specifically developed for use in post Cold War conventional war theater "with third world nations". 

In October 2001, in the immediate wake of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld envisaged the use of the B61-11 in Afghanistan. The targets were Al Qaeda cave bunkers in the Tora Bora mountains. 

Rumsfeld stated at the time that while the "conventional" bunker buster bombs "' are going to be able to do the job', ... he did not rule out the eventual use of nuclear weapons." (Quoted in the Houston Chronicle, 20 October 2001). 

The use of the B61-11 was also contemplated during the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. In this regard, the B61-11 was described as "a precise, earth-penetrating low-yield nuclear weapon against high-value underground targets", which included Saddam Hussein's underground bunkers:

 "If Saddam was arguably the highest value target in Iraq, then a good case could be made for using a nuclear weapon like the B61-11 to assure killing him and decapitating the regime" (.Defense News, December 8, 2003).

There is no documentary evidence, however, that the B61-11 was used against Iraq.






A B-2A bomber releases a test version of the new B61-11 gravity bomb over the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, November 20, 1996

"Safe for Civilians"

The B61-11 is categorized as a "deep earth penetrating bomb" capable of "destroying the deepest and most hardened of underground bunkers, which the conventional warheads are not capable of doing". The B61-11s can be delivered in much same way as the conventional GBU (gravity bomb), from a B-2. a 5B-2 stealth bomber or from an F-16 aircraft.

"military officials and leaders of America's nuclear weapon laboratories are urging the US to develop a new generation of precision low-yield nuclear weapons... which could be used in conventional conflicts with third-world nations.

Critics argue that adding low-yield warheads to the world's nuclear inventory simply makes their eventual use more likely. In fact, a 1994 law currently prohibits the nuclear laboratories from undertaking research and development that could lead to a precision nuclear weapon of less than 5 kilotons (KT), because "low-yield nuclear weapons blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war."

... Senate Republicans John Warner (R-VA) and Wayne Allard (R-CO) buried a small provision in the 2001 Defense Authorization Bill that would have overturned these earlier restrictions... Senators Warner and Allard imagine these nuclear weapons could be used in small-scale conventional conflicts against rogue dictators, while leaving most of the civilian population untouched. As one anonymous former Pentagon official put it to the Washington Post last spring, "What's needed now is something that can threaten a bunker tunneled under 300 meters of granite without killing the surrounding civilian population." Statements like these promote the illusion that nuclear weapons could be used in ways which minimize their "collateral damage," making them acceptable tools to be used like conventional weapons." (See / click v54nl, italics added)

In an utterly twisted logic, the nuclear bunker buster bomb is presented as an instrument of peace-making and regime change, which will enhance global security. It is intended to curb the dangers of WMD proliferation by "nonstate organizations (terrorist, criminal)" and "rogue states". Pentagon propaganda has carefully distorted the nature of this bomb.

The B61-11 is casually described as causing an underground explosion without threatening "the surrounding civilian population".

The Pentagon has blurred the distinction between conventional battlefield weapons and nuclear bombs. Already during the Clinton Administration, the Pentagon was calling for the use of the "nuclear" B61-11 bunker buster bomb, suggesting that because it was "underground", there was no toxic radioactive fallout which could affect civilians.

The Bush administration has gone one step further in defining the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which are now part of America's preemptive arsenal. Essentially they are described defensive weapons.   Under the preemptive nuclear doctrine, they are specifically identified for use in conventional war theaters.

The Pentagon claims that the use of the B61-11 minimizes the risks of "collateral damage". According to US. military planners, "potential adversaries" are hiding their WMDs in "fortified bunkers" below more than 100 feet of concrete.  Yet test results indicate that the low yield B61-11 has never penetrated more than 20 feet below the ground (See also The Independent. 23 October 2003) :

"The earth-penetrating capability of the B61-11 is fairly limited. ...  Tests show it penetrates only 20 feet or so into dry earth when dropped from an altitude of 40,000 feet. ... Any attempt to use it in an urban environment would result in massive civilian casualties. Even at the low end of its 0.3-300 kiloton yield range, the nuclear blast will simply blow out a huge crater of radioactive material, creating a lethal gamma-radiation field over a large area " (Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons by Robert W. Nelson,Federation of American Scientists, 2001 ).

Nuclear Holocaust

According to , the use of the B61-11 against North Korea would result in extensive radioactive fallout over nearby countries, thereby triggering a nuclear holocaust. 

"... In tests the bomb penetrates only 20 feet into dry earth,... But even this shallow penetration before detonation allows a much higher proportion of the explosion to be transferred into ground shock relative to a surface burst. It is not able to counter targets deeply buried under granite rock. Moreover, it has a high yield, in the hundreds of kilotons. If used in North Korea, the radioactive fallout could drift over nearby countries such as Japan" ( )

If it were to be launched against Iran, it would result in radioactive contamination over a large part of the Middle East - Central Asian region, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, including US troops stationed in Iraq:  

"The use of any nuclear weapon capable of destroying a buried target that is otherwise immune to conventional attack will necessarily produce enormous numbers of civilian casualties. No earth-burrowing missile can penetrate deep enough into the earth to contain an explosion with a nuclear yield [of a low yield B61-11] even as small as 1 percent of the 15 kiloton Hiroshima weapon. The explosion simply blows out a massive crater of radioactive dirt, which rains down on the local region with an especially intense and deadly fallout."(Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons, by Robert W. Nelson, op cit )

At present, the B61-11 is slated for use in war theaters together with conventional weapons. (Congressional Report Bunker Busters”: Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator Issues , Congressional Research Service March 2005). Other versions of the B61, namely mod 3, 4 and 7, which are part of the US arsenal, involve nuclear bunker buster bombs with a lower yield to that of B61-11). 

While the US Congress has blocked further research funding in fiscal 2005 on new more robust tactical nuclear weapons, this decision does not affect the existing arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons including the B61-11, developed during the Clinton administration. The B61-11 bunker busters are fully operational,  The B61-11 has apparently been tested  "resulting in its acceptance as a standard stockpile item". It has been cleared for battlefield use.  

Part II of this article is forthcoming on Global Research


Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best seller "The Globalization of Poverty " published in eleven languages. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, at . He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  His most recent book is entitled: America’s "War on Terrorism", Global Research, 2005. 

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Posted: Feb 17, 2006 9:47am
Jan 4, 2006
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Posted: Jan 4, 2006 8:20pm
Dec 12, 2005
Quick jump to below stories:
Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran
Iran : U.S. can bid on nuclear plant
[The US does not dare participate in this attack, if it occurs. And we had all better pray that it doesn’t. That would mean the end of the world as we know it, because China, India, Europe and most of the rest of the world would have to defend their access to Iranian oil. Ahmadinejad is behaving like a madman but there is an even more frightening shrewdness in having groups like Hezbollah step up attacks. Iran would likely retaliate by shutting down the Straits of Hormuz or stopping oil sales to Europe. It would certainly stage multiple retaliatory attacks throughout the region, which would threaten to destabilize Saudi Arabia and plunge the Gulf into utter chaos. These are some of the most alarming developments I have seen in a long time. – MCR]

Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv, and Sarah Baxter, Washington
The Sunday Times December 11, 2005,,2089-1920074,00.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.

Iran ’s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern.

The crisis is set to come to a head in early March, when Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, will present his next report on Iran. El-Baradei, who received the Nobel peace prize yesterday, warned that the world was “losing patience” with Iran.

A senior White House source said the threat of a nuclear Iran was moving to the top of the international agenda and the issue now was: “What next?” That question would have to be answered in the next few months, he said.

Defence sources in Israel believe the end of March to be the &ldquooint of no return” after which Iran will have the technical expertise to enrich uranium in sufficient quantities to build a nuclear warhead in two to four years.

“ Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran,” Sharon warned recently. “We have the ability to deal with this and we’re making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.”

The order to prepare for a possible attack went through the Israeli defence ministry to the chief of staff. Sources inside special forces command confirmed that “G” readiness — the highest stage — for an operation was announced last week.

Gholamreza Aghazadeah, head of the Atomic Organisation of Iran, warned yesterday that his country would produce nuclear fuel. “There is no doubt that we have to carry out uranium enrichment,” he said.

He promised it would not be done during forthcoming talks with European negotiators. But although Iran insists it wants only nuclear energy, Israeli intelligence has concluded it is deceiving the world and has no intention of giving up what it believes is its right to develop nuclear weapons.

A “massive” Israeli intelligence operation has been underway since Iran was designated the “top priority for 2005”, according to security sources.

Cross-border operations and signal intelligence from a base established by the Israelis in northern Iraq are said to have identified a number of Iranian uranium enrichment sites unknown to the the IAEA.

Since Israel destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, “it has been understood that the lesson is, don’t have one site, have 50 sites”, a White House source said.

If a military operation is approved, Israel will use air and ground forces against several nuclear targets in the hope of stalling Tehran’s nuclear programme for years, according to Israeli military sources.

It is believed Israel would call on its top special forces brigade, Unit 262 — the equivalent of the SAS — and the F-15I strategic 69 Squadron, which can strike Iran and return to Israel without refuelling.

“If we opt for the military strike,” said a source, “it must be not less than 100% successful. It will resemble the destruction of the Egyptian air force in three hours in June 1967.”

Aharon Zeevi Farkash, the Israeli military intelligence chief, stepped up the pressure on Iran this month when he warned Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, that “if by the end of March the international community is unable to refer the Iranian issue to the United Nations security council, then we can say the international effort has run its course”.

The March deadline set for military readiness also stems from fears that Iran is improving its own intelligence-gathering capability. In October it launched its first satellite, the Sinah-1, which was carried by a Russian space launcher.

“The Iranians’ space programme is a matter of deep concern to us,” said an Israeli defence source. “If and when we launch an attack on several Iranian targets, the last thing we need is Iranian early warning received by satellite.”

Russia last week signed an estimated $1 billion contract — its largest since 2000 — to sell Iran advanced Tor-M1 systems capable of destroying guided missiles and laser-guided bombs from aircraft.

“Once the Iranians get the Tor-M1, it will make our life much more difficult,” said an Israeli air force source. “The installation of this system can be relatively quick and we can’t waste time on this one.”

The date set for possible Israeli strikes on Iran also coincides with Israel’s general election on March 28, prompting speculation that Sharon may be sabre-rattling for votes.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the frontrunner to lead Likud into the elections, said that if Sharon did not act against Iran, “then when I form the new Israeli government, we’ll do what we did in the past against Saddam’s reactor, which gave us 20 years of tranquillity”.


Iran ’s foreign minister met leading figures from three Islamic militant groups to co-ordinate a united front against Israel days before a recent escalation of attacks against Israeli targets shattered fragile ceasefires with Lebanon and the Palestinians, writes Hugh Macleod in Damascus.

The minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, held talks with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Damascus on November 15.

Among those who attended the meeting were Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, and a deputy leader of Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for last Monday’s suicide bombing of a shopping mall in Netanya that killed five Israeli citizens.

Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command, was also present. “We all confirmed that what is going on in occupied Palestine is organically connected to what is going on in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Lebanon,” said Jibril.

Seven days after the talks, Hezbollah fired a volley of rockets and mortars at Israeli targets, sparking the fiercest fighting between the two sides since Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon five years ago.

Back To Story List

Iran : U.S. can bid on nuclear plant

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran will allow one of its fiercest critics, the United States, to bid on the construction of a nuclear plant, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday in his weekly press briefing.

Hamid Reza Asefi said the United States can take part in international bidding to build the plant at Darkhoin in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, if it meets standards and quality expectations, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Saturday the construction phase of the 360-megawatt light water nuclear plant had begun, Fars reported.

That plant, he said, will use fuel manufactured in Iran by Iranian specialists -- something that would involve the enrichment of uranium. The United States and the European Union have claimed Iran intends to enrich uranium to build nuclear weapons and have threatened to take Iran to the United Nations Security Council over its uranium enrichment program.

Iran denies working toward nuclear weapons, saying its goal is to produce civilian energy and it has a right to enrich uranium. Talks between Iran and the so-called "EU 3" -- Britain, France and Germany -- on the matter stalled in August.

Aghazadeh didn't say when uranium could be enriched at the Darkhoin plant but said the plant will take seven years to build.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.
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Posted: Dec 12, 2005 5:45pm


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