IRAN NUKES, REVISITED (Expanded Edition)

Column No. 69 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - July 28, 2005

This column is a revisit to a series of short pieces that were run in this space last spring, which were in turn based upon a series of “Shorts Shot” run on our European Editor Michael Carmichael’s “The Moving Planet (Ltd. UK) Blog” ( for which I am privileged to be a Contributing Editor.  The topic will, I fear, be with us for quite some time and there are some new developments.  Thus in my view it is worth this revisit, with some editing and additional commentary.

On Monday, November 29, 2004, in "Short Shot No. 27: Iranian Nukes," I wrote in part that at that time not a day seemed to pass without the Iranians changing their position on nuclear weapons development.  One day, they are accepting European proposals for an agreement to suspend it; the next day they seem to be repudiating any agreement.  The U.S. and the Israelis have worked hard to paint the scariest of scenarios were Iran to join the nuclear club, albeit with a few bombs and fairly primitive means of delivering them.  I happen to think that the scariest nation having nuclear weaponry at present is the United States under the Georgites.  It is well known that leading members of and top advisors to the Georgite regime have for some time openly talked about invading Iran.  Since the U.S. ground forces are having such a tough time against lightly armed guerillas in Iraq, “with what is the U.S. going to invade Iran?” one might ask.

Consider the history.  The U.S. is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons.  Since the time of the Eisenhower Administration (to my knowledge only under successor Republican presidents), the U.S. has actually considered using them again in one situation or another.  In the Iraq war, Georgite sympathizers talked about "nuking" Fallujah.  In his national radio program on June 25, 2005, Paul Harvey, the 87 year-old Disney Corp. (ABC) commentator, questioned why “rifles” were used in Afghanistan instead of the “big one.”  The Georgite program to develop a whole new generation of "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons, designed to get at underground facilities of various kinds, has been receiving on-again, off-again, on-again consideration in the Republican Congress, with the only concern apparently being the cost.  Most recently, the Georgites have announced their interest in starting up a new program to develop enriched plutonium.  Such work has not been done in years.  One wonders just what the purpose of that program would be.

If I were in the Iranian leadership, liberal or conservative, given these facts and given that close-by Israel, presently under the Partition-rejectionist/Palestinians-ejectionist Sharonists, is estimated to have about 400 nuclear weapons, I would want to have them too.  Unless a deal is made, since the Iranian nuclear industry is widely decentralized only a complete takeover of the whole country by the US could prevent Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons.  The deal that the Iranians may be on their way to making with the Europeans and the Russians may be indeed to not acquire them, in return for a solid guarantee of protection against the US.  Perhaps (I noted back in November) this is what the on-again/off-again nature of the public Iranian position is all about, as the various forces maneuver behind closed doors to provide those guarantees to the Iranians.  Stranger alliances have occurred in history.

On December 04, 2004, I followed that commentary with "Short Shot No. 31: Further on Iranian Nukes."  In it I noted that a friend, a very sharp political analyst and a strong anti-Georgite on most issues, had sent me the following comment:

"Steve: If you're really, truly more afraid of George Bush than of the theocrats in Teheran, I'm afraid we don't have anything to say to each other on this topic.  If it's just rhetoric, I think it's ill-judged rhetoric."

I sent him the following response:

"Hi.  Yes, I am more afraid of George Bush and the theocrats/Neocons that are running him than I am of the theocrats in Teheran.  George Bush is rapidly turning our country into a fascist dictatorship.  This is beyond the power of the Iranians to do, nuclear-tipped or not.  The negative impacts of Georgite policy, not only for our country but also for the human species as we know it, are terrifying, in my view.  Whether or not Iran acquires nuclear weapons, I am indeed much more afraid that the Georgite theocratic/Armageddonists, as they become evermore entrenched in power while evermore feeling that on the international stage their backs are against the wall, might use the US nukes than that the Iranians would use theirs."

I never did receive a response from my erstwhile correspondent.  He is obviously a man of his word, that if I stuck to my position, we had nothing further to talk about.

I returned to the subject on February 21, 2005 in "Short Shot No. 48: Going Nuclear in Iran?”  I noted that our Editor/Publisher Michael Carmichael had just published the next item below on The Iran War.  It began:

"Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter have reported that the US planning for the Iran War is reaching a very advanced stage.  George Bush has already approved a June launch, when the bombing will target strategic sites inside Iran.”  And continuing: ". . . the Defense Department is now revising military plans for a maximum ground and air invasion of the oil-rich nation."

Right above the notice of Michael's item in my email in box that day was the daily bulletin from The Washington Post, which contained this lead item: "Army Having Difficulty Meeting Recruiting Goals.  The active-duty Army is in danger of failing to meet its recruiting goals, and is beginning to suffer from manpower strains like those that have dropped the National Guard and Reserves below full strength, according to Army figures and interviews with senior officers.  (By Ann Scott Tyson, The Washington Post)"

The Georgite maxi-Imperialists must know this.  The US will have nowhere near enough ground forces for any sort of conventional invasion of Iran.  It is having a hard time holding its own against guerrillas in Iraq, much less the large, well organized and well-equipped Army it would be facing in Iran.  It could very well face mass rebellion in the ranks of the Reserves and National Guard, and even the regular forces, including some high-ranking officers (many of whom opposed the Iraq invasion, at least at the planning level) were it to try to mount a conventional invasion of Iran.  Does this mean that the powers that be are planning to go nuclear?

Yes, folks.  That is what I said.  The end of civilization as we know it may be closer than most of us think.

Finally, on February 25, 2005, in "Short Shot No. 49: There He Goes Again," I noted that George Bush was in Europe, talking about Iran and nuclear weapons.  While there, Bush said that he strongly endorsed the European diplomatic option in pursuit of a settlement with the "Moolahs" on the matter of "nookyulahr" weapons (yes, he used those pronunciations in a sound bite heard on All Things Considered, 2/23/ 05).  "Most important," he said.  "Will continue," he said.  "Absolutely the first option," he said.  (He did not say, of course, that his own government would engage in direct diplomacy with Iran on matters of mutual concern, any more than his government did with Hussein's Iraq, or is doing with North Korea, which has repeatedly requested bilateral negotiations.)  Perhaps it is to secure the promise made by the new Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, first reported by Andy Borowitz in his Report of June 27, 2005.  Sounding remarkably counter-factual and counter-rational like the U.S. President so often does, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, not to worry, Iran is building “the most peaceful nuclear weapon ever” (speaking in English and pronouncing the word “nuclear” correctly, to boot).

However, in several previous items in this space, primarily by our Editor-Publisher Michael Carmichael, we have read, courtesy of Scott Ritter, ex-Marine, ex-US Government weapons inspector in Iraq, which Bush has already signed off on a military attack on Iran for June.  Bush's statements on "diplomacy" obviously constitute major lying to the world, right up there with the lying to the world on the reasons for the US invasion of Iraq.  At stake with this newest ultra-Imperialist adventure of the Georgites are the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, to say nothing of the future of Constitutional democracy in the US, and the future of the US economy, to say nothing of the world's economy.  And if they use nuclear (yes, George, that is the correct spelling) weapons, as I suggested they might in my previous Short Shot, well . . .

Which brings us to the present and my present comment.

As is well known, the victor in the recent Iranian Presidential election was former Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  While the open military assault predicted by Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh has not yet taken place, according to Ritter the U.S. assault on Iran has already begun, covertly.  (You can follow Scott Ritter’s work at the Project for the Old American Century (,, and Common Dreams (  Hey Scott, set up a website, will you?)  If true, this initiative has much in common with the pre-emptive air war that the US and the UK launched against Iraq well before they went to the UN with their “justifications” for “meeting the clear and present danger of that Hussein’s Iraq presented to the world.”  Ritter states that the anti-Iranian government terrorist organization, the Mujaheddin-e Khalg (known as the MEK or MKO in the West) is operating as a strike force under CIA direction, and that the United States is preparing to stage military attacks with U.S. troops from the neighboring Republic of Azerbaijan.

As for the new Iranian President and the possibility of U.S.-Iranian negotiations, the process of demonization of the former, most likely to give the US an excuse not to negotiate with him, has already begun.  He has been identified as a hostage-taker, interrogator, and possible torturer during the Tehran US Embassy hostage crisis of 1979-80 by at least six former hostages.  Iranian authorities are going out of their way to deny this, but one wonders what difference that would make if the Georgites really wanted to negotiate.  Of course, the US does not negotiate with terrorists.  Except.  Except when it is in its interest to do so.

After all, Reagan may well have negotiated with the Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1980 elections, with Bush the First as a major go-between, to defer release of the hostages until after the US elections, which Khomeini did (see the book October Surprise by Gary Sick).  Reagan definitely negotiated with the Khomeini regime to arrange the Iran part of the Iran-Contra scheme to raise money to buy weapons for the Nicaragua contras.  Both sides of the conspiracy were illegal.  Iran was at the time officially designated as a "terrorist state,” by the US, and US aid of any kind to the Contras was specifically prohibited by the Boland Amendment.  So Bush's ideological forbears, including directly his Dad, negotiated directly with the Iranian terrorists when it served their objectives.  As for the present, the Georgites are apparently negotiating with the Iraqi insurgents/terrorists right now (what exactly about, one has to wonder).  But direct negotiations with the government of Iran would not serve their interests now, so the facts be damned.  Let the demonization begin.

History, consistency, and honesty are just inconveniences for the Georgites and their supporters.  On the much more important nuclear question, one still has to wonder, is the use of nuclear weapons already on the Georgite agenda for Iran?  Given their extraordinary track record for secrecy and conspiracy, we may know only when the first mushroom cloud appears over the Elburz, or perhaps the Tagros mountains of that historic land.


Junkie:  For those TPJ readers who may find Dr. Jonas’ warnings unimaginable, read this article released last week -- The Iran War Buildup by Michael T. Klare.

Since Dr. Jonas’ article was published, Justin Raimondo of has published an article revealing detailed plans by the Bush administration to invade Iran.  Raimondo provides a quote from a recent American Conservative magazine article (not online) authored by Philip Giraldi (emphasis added):

"The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections."

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA clandestine officer and co-publisher of "Intelligence Brief."  Giraldi is quoted in an interview earlier this year saying:

Some kind of U-S attack on Iran is likely . . . .

Probably the wind has gone out of the sails of the people that would be inclined toward a full-scale invasion after what has happened in Iraq. Iran is after all much bigger and more populous than Iraq. I think basically what we are going to see is an escalating covert campaign. – Voice of America

Dr. Jonas asked the question if the US was prepared to use nuclear weapons in Iran.  It appears that the answer to his question is emerging.