KITCHENER, Ontario — With the long-awaited agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany) finally signed, it appears that Iran will continue its nuclear program for peaceful purposes, which it has always stated was its intent.
This agreement was welcomed throughout most of the world, with the most notable exceptions being Israel, several members of the U.S. Congress, and U.S. presidential candidate wannabes. This is not surprising: Israel sees just about everything as a great “existential” threat; Congress is bought and paid for by various Israeli lobbies; and most of the individuals vying for the nomination for the two major parties are, or have been, part of that Congress. Those who aren’t generally adhere to some interpretation of Christianity, which, according to them, professes that Israelis are God’s chosen people. (Yes, people holding this belief are among those who are running for the most powerful office in the world.)
U.S. government officials — even those who support the agreement reached in July — criticize Iran, saying the Islamic Republic can’t be trusted, and that the inspections required within the agreement are all vital, etc., etc. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that such statements are hypocritical coming from the country with the second highest number of nuclear weapons (of the nine countries known or believed to have nuclear weapons, the U.S. and Russia together hold over 90 percent of the worldwide total). Not to mention that the U.S. the only nation ever to have used them.
The U.S. conducted its first nuclear test in New Mexico in July 1945, and then, apparently liking what it saw, dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a month later. On Aug. 6 of that year, at least 80,000 people were killed instantly in Hiroshima, with another 90,000 to 140,000 dying from radiation and injuries by the end of the year. Three days later, at least 70,000 people died when Nagasaki was bombed, and 75,000 were injured. Several hundred thousand others would eventually die as a result of those horrific events.
Why, one might ask, does the U.S. get to decide which countries can and can’t have nuclear weapons? How can the U.S., with its violently bloody history, pose as an arbiter of global morality? One would think that, in any discussion of nuclear weapons, the U.S. would hide its figurative head in shame, taking a position only with the humble acknowledgment that, due to its criminal, murderous history, it can only try to make amends by preventing such horrors from ever again occurring. That, along with a complete dismantling of its huge nuclear stockpile — something that it seems will never happen — would be the only way it might have any credibility.
In discussing the Iran nuclear agreement, many U.S. officials seem to fall all over themselves to show their almost parental love and protection for Israel. A discussion of ongoing Israeli war crimes, and the country’s unspeakable, continuing human rights violations — including the illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, the arrest without charge of Palestinian men, women and children, and the shooting of unarmed Palestinians — is outside the scope of this essay. However, suffice it to say that it is generally acknowledged throughout much of the world, except, of course, in the hallowed halls of Congress and the congregations of so-called Christian churches that teach a brand of Christianity that Jesus Christ wouldn’t recognize, that Israel is an apartheid nation, committing ongoing genocide against the Palestinians.
Hillary Clinton — the former First Lady, U.S. senator, Secretary of State and current presidential candidate — made this amazing statement just last month: “I wouldn’t support this agreement for one second if I thought it put Israel in greater danger.”
The phrase “in greater danger” implies that Israel is in some danger today. With over $3 billion a year in U.S. military aid, and as the only nation in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, Israel doesn’t seem to be in much danger from anyone. Yet Clinton further stated that, were she to be elected president, she would “not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
So, the U.S., with its thousands of nuclear weapons, is restricting Iran from developing them, at least partly to protect its “ally,” Israel. But why does Israel need its protection?
It’s interesting, and more than a little troubling, that Israel is one of the few nuclear-armed countries that hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That treaty is described on the website of the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs:
“The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
Israel, which is widely acknowledged to possess nuclear weapons, hasn’t signed this treaty, but Iran ratified it in 1970.
Israel has wanted nuclear weapons almost from the time of its bloody inception. And, unsurprisingly, its first introduction to nuclear assistance came from the U.S. under the so-called “Atoms for Peace” initiative, which the U.S. started in order to share nuclear information and technology with other nations for peaceful purposes. Israel received its first nuclear reactor in 1955, compliments of the U.S.
And now Israel is screaming bloody murder (an appropriate cry for a nation committing ongoing genocide) because Iran will be permitted — “permitted,” it should be noted, by nations that have no business interfering with its internal affairs — to develop its peaceful nuclear program. Yet Israel resists any attempts by international bodies to inspect its own nuclear facilities.
Again, it’s an understatement to say that the U.S. opened a can of worms with its genocidal nuclear program, annihilating hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens within a week and leaving others there to suffer through agonizing, horrific deaths in the following months and years.
It’s important to consider, however, that even the peaceful use of nuclear material carries grave threat. Several accidents at commercial or civil nuclear power plants have caused untold suffering. In many cases, that suffering continues in the form of birth defects, increased cancer rates and other serious symptoms.
Let us look at just a few of the nuclear accidents that have occurred in the latter part of the 20th century:
- SL-1 Experimental Power Station, Idaho Falls, Idaho, 1961 — The improper removal of a control rod caused a steam explosion and meltdown, killing three operators, two almost immediately, with the third dying later. The accident was a “level 4” on the International Nuclear Event Scale, a seven-level scale introduced by the International Atomic Energy Agency to describe a nuclear incident or accident’s impact on people or the environment.
- Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant, Loir-et-Cher, France, 1969 — Fifty kg of uranium in a gas-cooled reactor began to melt, resulting in France’s most serious nuclear disaster to date. A second accident at the same plant occurred in 1980. Both accidents registered as “level 4” on the INES.
- Three Mile Island, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 1979 — In the worst commercial nuclear power disaster up to this time,, there was the meltdown of two nuclear reactors. Within three days, 140,000 people had been evacuated from within a 20 mile radius. The accident was a “level 5” on the INES.
- RA-2 Facility, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1983 — An error by an operator left him dead within two days due to radiation exposure and another 17 people outside the reactor room absorbed lower levels of radiation. The accident was a “level 4” on the INES.
- Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986 — One of only two “level 7” nuclear accidents according to the INES, the death toll is still not conclusively known. A 2006 report from the World Health Organization estimated 9,000 deaths related to this, but that number continues to climb. At least 5,000 people who were children or adolescents at the time of this disaster have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The report said this: “More than five million people live today in areas still contaminated with radioactive materials. Many of these people have demonstrated higher anxiety levels, multiple unexplained physical symptoms and subjective poor health compared to non-exposed populations.” Additionally, the emotional impact of this and other such disasters cannot be minimized. The WHO report also states: “Relocation proved a deeply traumatic experience because of disruption to social networks and having no possibility to return to their homes. For many, there has been a social stigma associated with being an ‘exposed person.’” Nearly a quarter of a million people were permanently relocated because of this accident.
- Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Okuma, Japan, 2011 — Safety precautions at nuclear facilities are a priority, but, as in the case of this nuclear plant in Japan, which experienced a meltdown after a Magnitude-9 earthquake, some risks simply cannot be mitigated. Over 150,000 people were evacuated from their homes amid this INES “level 7” accident, leaving behind all their possessions with no hope of ever returning. The long-term results of this disaster are not yet known. And the environmental ramifications extend far beyond Japan. Diplomats acknowledge that radiation from this disaster reached the United States in a matter of days, but downplay any real impact.
The potential damage to health is nearly unparalleled. Acute radiation syndrome occurs in a matter of hours after exposure and, depending on the degree of radiation, can cause skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, coma and death. Note that in two of the examples shown above, four operators exposed to radiation died within days of the exposure.
Yet the suffering and death resulting from these accidents is dwarfed by what a nuclear weapon is capable of producing, as the U.S. showed the world in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Its lethal nuclear history isn’t stopping the U.S. from strutting across the world stage today, deciding which countries can (Israel) and can’t (Iran) have nuclear weapons. The fox, having usurped the power over the henhouse, decides which other foxes can enter and which are forbidden.
The one notable aspect of this particular exercise in U.S. hypocrisy is the defiance of Israel’s will. Israeli lobbies in the U.S. worked hard to defeat this agreement, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even issuing his fear-mongering to the U.S. Congress. In those hallowed halls, he proclaimed, incredibly, that the agreement funds what he called the terrorist regime of Iran. Yet through its support to Israel, the U.S. finances one of the most horrific terrorist states on the planet.
So, for now, some international sanctions will be lifted from Iran as it continues to build its peaceful nuclear technology. However, there is a grave threat that Israel, using U.S.-provided weapons, will act unilaterally to bomb Iran. The consequences of such an action would be far greater than Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons. Perhaps world pressure will prevent this from happening; it will be a global tragedy if it can’t.
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