Iran's nuclear ambitions alarming Israel to brink of war, say experts

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The nuclear standoff between Iran and Israel has never been more serious, say experts who point to a recent statement by President Barack Obama as a sign of a clear and present danger to the world.

There’s always been the danger of something “going nuclear” in our fragile world where countries such as Iran and Israel seem to like rattling sabers at each other was once viewed as “same old, same old,” by political science experts when referring to these countries threats of war remaining the same. However, it’s not same old, same old, when President Obama told NBC News in a TV interview Feb. 5 that while he does not think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran, the United States is “going to be sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this… hopefully diplomatically.” Thus, if Israel does attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and war breaks out, “even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found,” stated a report on the University of California Los Angeles website; while pointing to “a team of scientists” at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; the University of Colorado at Boulder and UCLA who’ve researched the implications of such an attack.

What's at stake for the world?

Overall, the stakes could not be any greater for a world that fears war after more than 20 years of sabre rattling by Israel over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In turn, President Obama and other world leaders seem very concerned that it’s not if but when “an Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran” will leave in its wake a new war in the Middle East, with more terrorism worldwide laced with even broader economic woes at a time when many countries are already at a breaking point.

Moreover, the top U.S. intelligence official told Congress Jan. 31 – in an annual report about threats facing the nation – that “Iran’s leaders seem prepared to attack U.S. interests overseas, particularly if they feel threatened by possible U.S. action.” Jim Clapper, director of National Intelligence, also told the Senate Intelligence Committee Jan. 31 in an MSNBC TV report that America “now faces many interconnected enemies, including terrorists, criminals and foreign powers, who may try to strike via nuclear weapons or cyberspace, with the movement's Yemeni offshoot and ‘lone wolf’ terror attacks posing key threats.”

Middle East nuclear confrontation feared

“While a regional nuclear confrontation – such as the one feared between Iran and Israel – among emerging third-world nuclear powers might be geographically constrained,” report this noted team of U.S. scientists, “the environmental impacts could be worldwide.”

Thus, even the great Atlantic Ocean – that sits between the U.S. and the Middle East – would not buffer the “fallout” that will be in the “global atmosphere” impacting an already fragile world climate situation.

While these conclusions of dark days ahead for the world if the so-called “nuclear genie gets out of the bottle” -- by U.S. scientists during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union – was back in 2006, the UCLA website that presented these nuclear war fears, has updated such conclusions about a clear and present danger of possible nuclear confrontation if Israel attacks Iran, and as of Feb. 9, 2012, the news from Israel is not good at all, state experts.

Israel after Iran’s nuke experts

NBC News reported a breaking story Feb. 9 about “deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.”

According to NBC News, “the group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.”

Moreover, the attacks -- which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site – “have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.”

Also, U.S. officials -- speaking on condition of anonymity with NBC News -- said “the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.”

Iran lashing out at Israel

According to NBC News Feb. 9, “the Iranians have no doubt who is responsible – Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI.”

At the same time, Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been rattling sabres in statements being televised internationally when stating that “Iranian leaders believe is a close relationship between Israel's secret service, the Mossad, and the People's Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.”

“The relation is very intricate and close,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, speaking of the MEK and Israel. “They (Israelis) are paying … the Mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents … (are) providing Israel with information. And they recruit and also manage logistical support.”

In turn, NBC News reported that the most recent attack took place on Jan. 11, 2012 when “Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan died in a blast in Tehran moments after two assailants on a motorcycle placed a small magnetic bomb on his vehicle. Roshan was a deputy director at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and was reportedly involved in procurement for the nuclear program, which Iran insists is not a weapons program. Previous attacks include the assassination of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, killed by a bomb outside his Tehran home in January 2010, and an explosion in November of that year that took the life of Majid Shahriari and wounded Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who is now the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.”

Scientists fear any attack involving nukes

The UCLA website also explains -- in layman’s terms -- what’s at stake in the event of a full-blown war between Iran and Israel if – as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated last week – Israel goes ahead with plans to attack Iran in either April, May or June, stated a Feb. 2 report in the Washington Post.

In turn, the fact that Panetta believes Israel will attack Iran sometime this spring is not just sabre rattling; say experts, but “serious.”

According to this Washington Post report, Panetta is concerned that Israel will launch an attack before Iran enters the so-called “immunity zone” when its nuclear facilities will be heavily fortified and a military strike will no longer succeed.

At the same time, the Washington Post quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said he doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action.”

What is the nuclear threat?

In turn, the UCLA website states how U.S. scientists (who’ve studied the impact of a possible nuclear explosion resulting from such an attack) are off the charts in terms of global impact. “Even the smallest nuclear powers today and in the near future may have as many as 50 or more Hiroshima-size (15 kiloton) weapons in their arsenals: all told, about 40 countries possess enough plutonium and/or uranium to construct substantial nuclear arsenals.”

Moreover, famed American scientist Owen Brian Toon, who heads the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at CU-Boulder, states: "A small country is likely to direct its weapons against population centers to maximize damage and achieve the greatest advantage. Fatality estimates for a plausible regional conflict ranged from 2.6 million to 16.7 million per country.”

Also, Richard Turco, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, UCLA, is equally concerned: “Considering the relatively small number and size of the weapons, the effects are surprisingly large. The potential devastation would be catastrophic and long term."

Why scientists are so worried about loose nukes

For everyday Americans, the impact of a nuclear bomb blast – even as far away as the Middle East – could mean, say scientists, “the Earth cooling due to nuclear fallout” that, in turn, could mean the nuke fallout “affecting grain-growing regions, food supplies and water in the U.S.”

Alan Robock, professor in the department of environmental sciences and associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutger's Cook College: "A cooling of several degrees would occur over large areas of North America and Eurasia, including most of the grain-growing regions. As in the case with earlier nuclear winter calculations, large climatic effects would occur in regions far removed from the target areas or the countries involved in the conflict."

Ironically, U.S. history books point to Iran’s nuclear program being launched in the 1950s “with the help of the United States as part of the ‘Atoms for Peace’ program.” Also, history states that “the participation of the U.S. and Western European governments in Iran’s nuclear program continued until the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah of Iran.”

As one scientist put it, “Karma is a bitch.”

Image source of an Iranian newspaper clip from 1968 reads: "A quarter of Iran's Nuclear Energy scientists are women." The photograph shows some female Iranian PhDs posing in front of Tehran's research reactor. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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