On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was devastated by a horrific explosion resulting from the detonation of a truckload of diesel fuel and fertilizer.
What if the explosive had been nuclear?
For all practical purposes, the physical destruction would have been roughly comparable. As Gertrude Stein might have put it, “A bomb is a bomb, is a bomb, is a bomb.” From a psychological and political standpoint, however, the difference would have been enormous.
It would have been the first nuclear device used in anger since July 1945, when Nagasaki was devastated by a single 20-kiloton bomb. Regardless of the magnitude of the explosion, which would have been extremely low compared with past and present nuclear weapons, the political and psychological results would have made past terrorist acts shrink into oblivion.
Are there nations possessing nuclear explosives that could have conducted such a terrible act? The answer, of course, is yes: the U.S., Russia, England, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel, plus others we don’t really know about. However, in today’s complicated nuclear-political equation, one nation stands out.
In terms of nuclear wannabes of concern, Iran tops the list for contentiousness. Nearly having the capability to deliver just one nuclear terror device, and not necessarily a military weapon, raises the possibility that the next hostile nuclear burst may solely have a malicious, political intent. This changes the equation for much of the Western world, particularly the United States, which has been phobic on discussing this issue.
Our national security matters, in particular our nuclear intelligence, has been run with outrageous duplicity to the world and to ourselves. From the very beginning following WWII, United States policy has been based on the practice of first worrying about the nuclear threat, then minimizing and even denying it.
At first, the CIA put off the initial Soviet capability by a decade or so. When an analyst in the Atomic Energy Commission predicted the first USSR test to a specific date in 1949, he was denounced as irresponsible and wildly off-base. When his prediction turned out to be correct, he was denounced as practically treasonous, and was severely punished for being right.
This contemptible U.S. policy and practice continues: in a similar fashion, I have been criticized and victimized by the federal government.
With respect to Iran, the dishonesty has been particularly shameful. Two very high ranking U.S. security officials — Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen — have lied through their teeth in order to minimize the nuclear threat this nation faces. We know a good deal about Iran’s allegedly non-explosive nuclear activities, and we do know their proclaimed “peaceful” program has the ability to produce very cheap, very low yield devices that could be used for insidious purposes — such as producing far more catastrophic Murrah-type attacks.
Despite the noble mission of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its success so far has been nothing to rejoice over. As per Iran, knowledge has been obtained for many years and there are few signs that the U.S. by itself can stem or eliminate Iran’s program.
The Iran nuclear program poses a very serious threat to Israel — both terroristic and military. In this light, the time has come for the U.S. and Israel — each the other’s most loyal and enduring partner — to join forces and physically eliminate the part of Iran’s nuclear effort which has the potential for producing very effective terrorist devices.
For this to take place, the wrath of the Arab world would surely descend upon both countries. But wouldn’t that be better than risking nuclear Murrahs?