Israel continues to ratchet up nuclear tensions in the Middle East.
Yesterday the Associated Press announced that "attempts to find Arab-Israeli common ground on banning weapons of mass destruction from the Mideast have failed, and high-profile talks on the issue have been called off."
Today we learned that because "much of Iran’s Fordow enrichment site near the city of Qom is now deep underground in a 'zone of immunity' safe from conventional air strikes," Israel could be considering "the use of ballistic missiles carrying small tactical nuclear warheads."
It is deeply disturbing that Israel might remotely consider such a plan. It is a well known fact that the U.S. supplied Israel with conventional bunker buster bombs (GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators) in 2011. What is yet unknown is whether Israel possesses nuclear bunker busters (such as the B61-11 nuclear bunker buster in the U.S. arsenal). It is safe to say that Israel is technologically capable of producing such a weapon.
Using such a weapon on deeply buried targets in Iran would be disastrous. Even a low yield weapon with the ability to penetrate deep underground would still blow out a massive crater of highly radioactive material, spreading lethal radiation over a large radius from the target. The depths reached by the most effective earth penetrating weapon simply cannot contain the resulting nuclear explosion. According to the Federation of American Scientists, "Even a 0.1 KT burst must be buried at a depth of approximately 230 feet to be fully contained."
Furthermore, because the material kicked up into the atmosphere by a nuclear bunker buster would be more directly exposed to the intense radiation emanating from the underground explosion, the resulting fallout would be much more highly radioactive than the fallout from an above ground detonation. The radioactive contamination could very well reach major population centers, and even spread to other countries.
Should Israel use even a single nuclear weapons against Iran, it would become a pariah state. The use of nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity. Besides the immorality of it, the International Court of Justice in 1996 determined that "the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law."
It is obscenely ironic that Israel might consider using nuclear weapons of any sort against a sovereign nation that does not even have nuclear weapons. There is absolutely no sane argument for their use against Iran by any stretch of the imagination. Israel is the only state in the Middle East to possess nuclear weapons, and does not abide by any treaty, in particular the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin (aka "Bibi") Netanyahu, should be called to account and should immediately and publicly declare a no first strike policy regarding nuclear weapons.
The Middle East needs to become a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, and NOT a Radioactive Wasteland. And since Israel is the only nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East, it would seem that the responsibility lies with Israel to lead the way.
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