After Iran Gets The Bomb

The decision by President George W. Bush in 2006 to forgo hitting Iran’s nuclear facilities has made Iran acquiring the atomic bomb, and worldwide catalytic nuclear proliferation, inevitable. This will have horrid consequences for the world and for American liberty at home. It will leave the world we live in an unrecognizable dystopia.

To use the May 16, 2006 words of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

“… The world is faced with the nightmarish prospect that nuclear weapons will become a standard part of national armament and wind up in terrorist hands. The negotiations on Korean and Iranian nuclear proliferation mark a watershed. A failed diplomacy would leave us with a choice between the use of force or a world where restraint has been eroded by the inability or unwillingness of countries that have the most to lose to restrain defiant fanatics. One need only imagine what would have happened had any of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Istanbul or Bali involved even the crudest nuclear weapon.
…An indefinite continuation of the stalemate would amount to a de facto acquiescence by the international community in letting new entrants into the nuclear club. In Asia, it would spell the near-certain addition of South Korea and Japan; in the Middle East, countries such as Turkey, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia could enter the field. In such a world, all significant industrial countries would consider nuclear weapons an indispensable status symbol. Radical elements throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere would gain strength from the successful defiance of the major nuclear powers.
…The management of a nuclear-armed world would be infinitely more complex than maintaining the deterrent balance of two Cold War superpowers. The various nuclear countries would not only have to maintain deterrent balances with their own adversaries, a process that would not necessarily follow the principles and practices evolved over decades among the existing nuclear states. They would also have the ability and incentives to declare themselves as interested parties in general confrontations. Especially Iran, and eventually other countries of similar orientation, would be able to use nuclear arsenals to protect their revolutionary activities around the world.

That was said in 2006. It is now 2010. Kissinger’s world is now upon us.

Aircraft can fly between North Korea and Iran via China and Pakistan. If they don’t land in Pakistan at bases where we can inspect them, America will have little and unverifiable information about their contents, such as weapons-grade fissionables and nuclear weapons components. So Iran can assemble its nukes in North Korea, using North Korean fissionables, fly them to Iran via China and Pakistan, and test them in Iran.

The real question here is not whether Iran has working nuclear weapons – they certainly have that capability given that North Korea produced more than 60kg of weapons-grade plutonium – but the status of their warhead fabrication capability, i.e., can they put working nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles?

I think the answer is “Yes” and I gave my reasons why in a post titled Count Down to Iran’s Nuclear Test Revisited on the Winds of Change blog in April 2006.

So does Turkey, so does Myanmar (AKA Burma), Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Given the successful example of Iranian nuclear break out, we are now going to see a world of a “Cuban missile crisis a month” from the North Koreans selling turn key nuclear missile complexes to irrational regimes — primarily Muslim — until the resulting nuclear chaos so infuriates the American people that we establish an “American Imperium” in self-defense.

In the interim, government defense workers like me will be gainfully employed policing American defense contractors making missile defense systems, ISO shipping container remote inspection systems and spy technology.

So What Does This Mean?

When you think of what the world will look like after Iran openly parades an A-Bomb, and we face the results of catalytic nuclear proliferation that Kissinger outlined, think of how the Indonesian Tsunami was handled:

Wall to wall media coverage, because of the visuals, US Military aide, lots of non-government relief agency appeals.

Joint Ex-President relief funds, then a slow headline fade as other events wash over it.

The recent Haitian earth quake certainly followed that script.

Horror, then the slow ‘life goes on’ fade from sight.

There are something like 2.5 million cities, towns, villages, and hamlets in the world. Over 3,000 have populations of over 100,000, and at least several hundred with populations over one million.

If we figure the million person centers are the most likely targets, then, at five nuclear detonations per decade, it’ll take at least 400 years to destroy them all.

We’ll react to them as we do to really big natural disasters. We’ll pray for the victims and the survivors, give a sigh of relief that neither we nor any of our families were there at the time, and maybe send a check, ATM payment or credit draft to the Red Cross.

We will, in a sense, become numb to them.

Governments won’t, of course. We can expect a lot more surveillance, a lot more wire-tapping, and a lot more “clandestine activity” intelligence agencies and special forces — which are the real threats to American liberty at home.

And here is the really scary part, pointed out by Daniel Ellsberg, of all people, just after the Falklands War.

When the Queen Elizabeth 2 was being used as a troop ship, and the British carrier HMS Ark Royal was carrying more than 2000 Royal Marines in addition to its large crew, it meant if either of those had been hit by the Argentine sub Santa Fe, Britain would have suffered by far the biggest military loss of life since WW2.

The British, via the US, told the Argentinians that if the Santa Fe was picked up anywhere within too close to either of the big targets, they would hit it with an airdropped nuclear torpedo.

The Argentinians decided to send the crew of the Santa Fe on cruise around the Horn for their health, and the sub spent the war off the Chilean coast.

But, as Ellsberg said, suppose the Brits had had to carry out the threat?

His basic observations were:

1. They sure as hell would have to. A bit over 100 Argie lives against many thousands of UK? And it’s a war, you know, old boy ….
2. Argentina couldn’t retaliate; it was a Junta of right wing generals so the support from the UN’s 3rd World caucus would have been minimal; the Soviets and Chinese would have said it was very naughty, and so might the US, but the Brits would have suffered no penalty and the result (Argies got no modern attack sub) would surely stand.
3. And at that point you’ve got a precedent of a fully justified nuclear strike (no civilian casualties, imminent danger, absolutely for a militarily justifiable end), and, as Ellsberg put it, “A lower wall for next time.”

So first the Iranians nuke someone, somewhere, and are nuked back at a purely military facility; then a terrorist group uses a nuke, and a training camp with some civilians around it is hit; then a Somali pirate base or a ship carrying nuclear materials at sea …. and then, really, the things are so damned handy, why reserve them just for infidels?

What about a city rising in rebellion against the true Islamic regime? (See Hama, Syria)

What about preemptive shots at terrorist facilities … or ….?

So the problem, is apt to begin Islamic — but it won’t stay Islamic. Not if it goes any length of time.

Consider, you’re the American president a decade from now, after we’ve had a couple of nuclear strikes on American bases and a few on European cities, and after we’ve hit ten targets in the Islamic world (and the Israelis have hit five and, say, the French have hit a couple). You’ve got a drug-and-illegals fortress over the border in Mexico and the Mexican government has declared that they can’t take it with their remnant army, and has asked for help.

Storm it with a few thousand marines or paras?

Or drop one air burst five kiloton tac nuke?

Now you’re the Chinese premier, and all this has been going on, and that miserable be damned Southeast Asian border is acting up, and you’ve got a warlord over the line in Laos or Burma …

“Hey,” you tell the Americans and the Russians, “if we stop bugging you about Mexico and Chechen, can we get a quiet okay here?”

The Islamic terror problem is only the crack in the bottle that the genie is most likely to come out through.
Once the nuclear genie is all the way out, you won’t be able to get it back in just by patching the big crack.

_Until America gets hit at home by a terrorist nuke._

Then the American public’s response will be with full-bore threat elimination, starting with the elimination of American politicians who get in the way of full-bore, immediate, aka nuclear, threat elimination via reducing terrorist supporting states to subsistence agriculture.

Then followed up by 2-5 nukes a year in what had been Arab countries plus Pakistan and Turkey, which would be subsequent pest control.

Not a cheery future…but now an almost certain one.

10 thoughts on “After Iran Gets The Bomb”

  1. If/when Iran fits nuclear weapons into ballistic missile nosecones, then expect some of these missiles to be placed in Latin American and/or Caribbean states which are hostile to the U.S. and are within missile range of some large American cities.

    Even if we have an antimissile capability with reasonable probability of intercepting such missiles, the psychological impact would be immense.

  2. It also means the end of freedom for us, as I pointed out four years ago, and Gerald Baker of the London Times noticed as well.


    Winds of Change
    January 19, 2006
    Thomas Holsinger

    … We better than most can economically afford the thoroughly intrusive security measures required to protect against terrorist nukes when the threat can come from anywhere, as opposed to Islamic extremists alone.

    But the price of domestic security, when foreign security fails due to a failure of leadership and will by President Bush, will be something much more precious – our freedom.

    Freedom everywhere will suffer due to those same security precautions. The greatest loss of freedom will come in those countries which are freest, i.e., especially America. Especially us.

    THIS is what is really at stake – the freedom which makes us Americans.

    … And if we don’t invade this year, it won’t matter much after that. We’ll be in the worst case scenario. And President Bush will be reviled as America’s worst President – the one who through inaction cost us our freedom.”,,19269-2011570,00.html

    “[b]Prepare yourself for the unthinkable: war against Iran may be a necessity[/b]

    Times of London
    January 27, 2006
    Gerald Baker

    … And the kind of society we live in and cherish in the West, a long way from Tehran or Damascus, will change beyond recognition. We balk now at intrusive government measures to tap our phones or stop us saying incendiary things in mosques. Imagine how much more our freedoms will be curtailed if our governments fear we are just one telephone call or e-mail, one plane journey or truckload away from another Hiroshima.”

  3. In order to forestall this dystopia, I suspect we will be willing to take on less nasty dystopias.

    We do not assassinate political leaders because we wish our own to be free of the threat. In a world where we are losing cities every few years, I suspect this prohibition will go down the tubes before the third city goes. It might go down the tubes before the 1st city goes.

  4. Tom H…”end of freedom for us”…actually, this could work in two ways. First, as you mention, increased controls on all aspects of life because of the threat of nuclear terrorism. Second, fear of allowing anything to be said or written that might offend the sensibilities of the mullahs.

    The second effect will begin very quickly in European countries as they come within range of Iranian nuclear missiles, and will begin to affect the US when such missiles are located in Cuba, Venezuela, etc.

  5. We’ll react to them as we do to really big natural disasters. We’ll pray for the victims and the survivors, give a sigh of relief that neither we nor any of our families were there at the time, and maybe send a check, ATM payment or credit draft to the Red Cross.

    And don’t forget the ‘grief’ counselors.

  6. Daedalus,

    Our freedom will be long gone by then, and we won’t get it back. Plus only the Islamicst threat would be destroyed. Rampant nuclear proliferation means the threat could come from anywhere.

  7. It’s called the lesson of power. Humans need to learn it. It is inconceivable that progress in knowledge will stop. It is inevitable that all states who want nukes will be able to have them.

    What are you going to do about it? I think politeness and negotiations will become the new normal and threats and bluster will be used much less often. War will become very difficult and rare.

    Apart from the morons who need to threaten, I think for personal weakness reasons usually, this will be a step forward. After all it is your country who espouses the arming of everyone. When everyone has nukes we are all equal. What could be wrong with that?

  8. Apart from the morons who need to threaten, I think for personal weakness reasons usually, this will be a step forward. After all it is your country who espouses the arming of everyone. When everyone has nukes we are all equal. What could be wrong with that?

    “The morons who need to threaten” — do you mean Kim Jung Il and the Iranian Mullahs? They are doing most of threatening now, and Iran doesn’t even have nukes yet. When they do, expect the threats, provocations, subversions, terrorism and direct attacks to become even worse.

  9. Daedalus,

    Think through the implications — economic, security and personal freedom — of 100% inspection of every ISO cargo container entering the USA by sea, land or air.

    Think through the world market, trade and travel implications of 3rd world nations announcing Coup attempts with the detonation of nuclear devices in capital cities killing the ruling Kleptocracy, their various regime security force headquarters, the headquarters of the air force and centralized tax records at a frequency of 2-4 times a decade.

    The id strips in your American money are RFID enabled to tell TSA screeners how much cash you are carrying though their check points.

    Now think through the implications of pet ID chips implanted in people after all of the above has happened.

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