Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oh my God, we're going to die!

The headline in this article from the Times of London is "Tehran has enough material for two nuclear bombs, IAEA says."

Terrifying! A few days is all that stands between America and nuclear destruction! ...assuming of course, that the Iranians are crazy, and nuclear weapons are permissible, but only when held by the US and its friends.

In the NYT about a week ago, for example, you find the US possesses 5,113 nuclear weapons. The military strategists who write the article say, in a fit of astounding noncomformity, that "That is exactly 4,802 more than we need." This, they say, is enough to annihilate a population and its industrial capacity, or "should we want to hit an enemy without destroying its society, the 311 weapons would be adequate for taking out a wide range of 'hardened targets' like missile silos or command-and-control bunkers." Just a thought, you know, that you might not want to destroy a society. They advocate distributing a hundred in ICBMs scattered throughout the US, giving nineteen to B-2 stealth bombers, which, along with nuclear submarines carrying around 192 missiles at any given time, should allow us to project the threat of atomic annihilation anywhere around the globe.

That what these thinkers advocate, far beyond anything Obama has proposed or is likely to accept, is something like the dovish option in today's military climate, is unneeded further evidence of our collective insanity. But how many nuclear warheads are too many for Iran to have? One. And apparently they have two, or will in the very near future.

Or not. When you read the article, you find "Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium stands at two tonnes, enough to arm two nuclear warheads if enriched further." (emphasis added) Do these three words change the meaning of the headline? Let's consider analogies.

"I could have drowned if there were water in the pool."
"Put your hands where I can see them! We are prepared to use deadly force, or would be if our firearms were loaded!"
"Iraq's WMD could have deterred a US invasion if they existed."

Iran doesn't have fissile material enriched to the level necessary for weaponization and won't for years. So what this article is breathlessly warning us is that the situation is actually unchanged