In a bitter irony, the assessment of America’s IntelligenceCommunity concerning Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilitiesrefutes the barrage of media disinformation as well as thebellicose statements emanating from the White House. The 2007National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): “judges with highconfidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weaponsprogram.” (2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: NuclearIntentions and Capabilities; November 2007, See also Office of theDirector of National Intelligence (ODNI))We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted itsnuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whetherit currently intends to develop nuclear weapons. – We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence thatIran does not currently have a nuclear weapon. – Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons programsuggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than wehave been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the programprobably was halted primarily in response to international pressuresuggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue thanwe judged previously.” (2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: NuclearIntentions and Capabilities; November 2007)In February 2011, The Director of National Intelligence James R.Clapper – while presenting the 2011 National Intelligence Estimate(NIE) to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – intimated -with some hesitation – that the Islamic Republic was not seeking todevelop nuclear weapons capabilities:“we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to buildnuclear weapons.” The 2011 NIE largely confirms the findingsundertaken by the US intelligence community in the 2007 NIE, whichremains, according to The New York Times, “the consensus view ofAmerica’s 16 intelligence agencies.” Post 9/11 pre-emptivenuclear war doctrineFirst formulated in the Bush administration’s 2002 ‘NuclearPosture Review’, the pre-emptive nuclear war doctrine -integrated into the Global War on Terrorism – started to take shapein the immediate wake of the war on Iraq. A pre-emptive‘defensive’ nuclear attack on Iran using tactical nuclearweapons was envisaged to annihilate the Islamic Republic’snon-existent nuclear weapons program.So-called ‘mini nukes’ were identified as the ‘dealweapon’ to conduct a pre-emptive nuclear attack.In 2003, the mini nukes, consisting of bunker-buster bombs withnuclear warheads, were re-categorized by the US Senate as bona fideconventional weapons. The new definition of a nuclear warhead hasblurred the distinction between conventional and nuclearweapons.Senator Edward Kennedy, at the time, accused the BushAdministration for having developed “a generation of moreuseable nuclear weapons.”Through a propaganda campaign which enlisted the supportof‘authoritative’ nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes wereupheld as an instrument of peace rather than war.“Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclearweapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states[Iran, North Korea]. Their logic is that existing nuclear weaponsare too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war.Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider thethreat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yieldnuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably beused. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.”(Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, DefenseNews November 29, 2004)In an utterly twisted piece of logic, nuclear weapons are presentedas a means to building peace and preventing ‘collateraldamage’. The Pentagon had intimated, in this regard, that themini-nukes are ‘harmless to civilians’ because theexplosions ‘take place underground’. Each of thesemini-nukes, nonetheless, constitutes – in terms of explosion andpotential radioactive fallout – a significant fraction of the atombomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.Estimates of yield for Nagasaki and Hiroshima indicatethat they were respectively of 21,000 and 15,000 tons. Mini-nukeshave a yield (explosive capacity) between one third and six times aHiroshima bomb.Following the 2003 Senate Green Light, which upheld mini nukesas ‘humanitarian bombs’, a major shift in nuclear weaponsdoctrine has unfolded. The low-yield nukes had been cleared for‘battlefield use’. In contrast to the warning on a packet ofcigarettes (see the proposed Food and Drug Administration labelbelow), the ‘advisory’ on the ‘dangers of nuclear weaponsto human health’ is no longer included in military manuals. Thelatter have been revised. This‘new’ generation of tacticalnuclear weapons is considered ‘safe’. The dangers of nuclearradiation are no longer acknowledged. There are no impediments orpolitical obstacles to the use of low yield thermonuclearbombs.The ‘international community’ has endorsed nuclear war inthe name of World Peace.Mini-nukes: Preferred weapons system of ‘pre-emptive nuclearwar’While reports tend to depict the tactical B61 bombs as a relic ofthe Cold War era, the realities are otherwise: mini-nukes are thechosen weapons system under the doctrine of pre-emptive nuclearwar, to be used in the conventional war theater against terroristsand ‘state sponsors of terrorism’, including the IslamicRepublic of Iran.Concrete plans to wage a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran havebeen on the Pentagon drawing board since 2004. A pre-emptivenuclear attack would consist in the deployment of B-61 tacticalnuclear weapons directed against Iran. The attacks would beactivated from military bases in Western Europe, Turkey andIsrael.In 2007, NATO confirmed its support for America’s nuclearpre-emption doctrine in a report entitled ‘Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World:Renewing Transatlantic Partnership’. The report (authored byformer defense chiefs of staff of the US, UK, Germany, France andthe Netherlands, and sponsored by the Dutch Noaber Foundation)calls for a pre-emptive ‘first strike’ use of nuclearweapons, against non-nuclear states as “the ultimate instrumentof an asymmetric response – and at the same time the ultimate toolof escalation. Yet they are also more than an instrument,since they transform the nature of any conflict and widen its scopefrom the regional to the global. Regrettably, nuclear weapons – andwith them the option of first use – are indispensable, since thereis simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world.”(Ibid, p.96-97, emphasis added).According to the authors, Iran constitutes a major strategicthreat – not only to Israel, “which it has threatened todestroy, but also to the region as a whole.” (Ibid, p.45) Whatis required is for the Atlantic Alliance to “restore deterrencethrough [military] escalation.”In this context, the Report, endorsed both by NATO and thePentagon, contemplates the notion of “escalation dominance, theuse of a full bag of both carrots and sticks—and indeed allinstruments of soft and hard power, ranging from the diplomaticprotest to nuclear weapons.” (Report, p.96. emphasis added)In December 2011, less than a year following thepublication of the 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), whichunderscored that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, a‘no options off the table’ agenda directed against Iran wasput forth by the Obama administration. What was envisaged was aplanned and coordinated US-NATO Israel military posture with regardto Iran. It was understood, as intimated by former DefenseSecretary Leon Panetta, that Israel would not act unilaterallyagainst Iran. In the case of an attack on Iran, the green lightwould be granted by Washington.“Any military operation against Iran by Israel must becoordinated with the United States and have its backing,“ saidPanetta.The various components of the military operation would be firmlyunder US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US StrategicCommand Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base inNebraska.Military actions by Israel would be carried out in closecoordination with the Pentagon. The command structure of theoperation is centralized and ultimately Washington decides if andwhen to launch the military operation.In March 2013, the ‘all options’ resolution in relationto Iran was on the agenda during the president’s official visit toIsrael. While an integrated US-NATO-Israel approach in response to‘the perils of a nuclear-armed Iran’ war was reasserted, the toneof the discussions was in the direction of military action againstIran.Obama’s visit to Israel was preceded by high-level bilateralconsultations, including the visit of IDF Chief of StaffBenny Gantz to Washington in February for discussions with theChairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempseypertaining to Iran and Syria. Benny Gantz was accompanied by Maj.Gen. Aviv Kochavi, director of IDF Military Intelligence, at themeeting with his US counterparts. The new head of the PentagonChuck Hagel will be visiting Israel in April in a follow-upmeeting.In the course of Obama’s visit, Prime Minister Netanyahureiterated the need for “a clear and credible threat of militaryaction [against Iran],” while intimating that Israel could actunilaterally. In this regard, it is worth noting that in August2012, a few months prior to the US presidential elections, a leakedIDF briefing document (translated from Hebrew) revealed the detailsof Netanyahu’s proposed “shock and awe attack” on Iran.“The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike,including an unprecedented cyber-attack … A barrage of tens ofballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran …from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. Themissiles would be armed with … high-explosive ordnance equippedwith reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardenedtargets. … A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will poundcommand and control systems, research and development facilities,… among the targets approved for attack— Shihab 3 and Sejilballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components ofrocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile controlsystems, centrifuge production plants and more.” (Quoted inRichard Silverstein, Netanyahu’s Secret War Plan: Leaked DocumentOutlines Israel’s ‘Shock and Awe’ Plan to Attack Iran, TikunOlam and Global Research, August 16, 2012). The strike details mentioned in the leaked IDF briefing abovepertain solely to the use of conventional weapons systems.Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, professorof economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, founder anddirector of the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG),Montreal and editor of the globalresearch.ca website. He is the author ofThe Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) andAmerica’s ‘War on Terrorism’ (2005). His most recent book isTowards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War(2011). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.His writings have been published in more than 20 languages.
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