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The Middle East presents a dangerous nexus of nuclear reactors and violence: military action is still an option

Trump’s new Iran sanctions have put airstrikes on hold — but nuclear risks remain
History suggests these dark scenarios cannot be dismissed. Even more critical, available measures to reduce these dangers must not be ignored. June 25, 2019, NBC News THINK,  By Bennett Ramberg, Former policy analyst at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs

The Middle East presents a dangerous nexus of nuclear reactors and violence. It remains the only region where foreign powers have attacked their enemies’ nuclear plants. On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order putting in place what he called “hard-hitting” new sanctions on Iran. Should continuing tensions between Tehran and Washington boil over into intense hostilities, one ominous nuclear policy question cannot be ignored: Will the presence of reactors in an enlarged conflict zone open a Pandora’s box to the first radioactive war in history?

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, wrote in a 2015 New York Times opinion piece that Washington needed to aim for “breaking key links in [Iran’s] nuclear fuel cycle” through military action. (And envisioned Israel playing a role.) That military option became moot when the Obama administration signed the Iran deal. Now that Trump has withdrawn from the agreement, however, military action is again an option — as well as serious consequences should any action go forward.

Consider, for example, if the current tensions escalate to the point that Tehran crosses Washington’s red line, as it has threatened, and expands nuclear materials production, openly breaking the deal struck with the Obama administration and its allies. Would the United States decide the time had come to eliminate Iran’s nuclear enrichment and related facilities?

In the powder keg of the Middle East, would Iran’s mullahs or their Hezbollah proxy then seek to make good on longstanding threats to launch reprisal rockets at Israel’s Dimona weapons reactor, releasing radioactive elements? And would such an attack propel Israel to respond in kind by striking Iran’s much larger Bushehr nuclear power plant?

History suggests these dark scenarios cannot be dismissed. Even more critical, available measures to reduce these dangers must not be ignored……..

Today’s Middle East nuclear reactor profile has become more complex, though. Iran now operates one Russian-designed 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant at Bushehr and is building two others. In 2020, a new power reactor is scheduled to go online in the United Arab Emirates, where three others are under construction. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt also now plan power reactors. …..

If a nuclear plant is hit, the results could be radiation hazards never seen in warfare. Several factors complicate risk projections…….

Acknowledging that mutually assured radioactive contamination would result from nuclear reactor attacks should be sobering enough to prompt all across the Middle East to heed the terrible lessons of Chernobyl: Releases of large inventories of radiation into the environment only sow grief that will last generations, benefiting no one. now https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-new-iran-sanctions-have-put-air-strikes-hold-ncna1021056

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June 25, 2019 - Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, politics international, safety, USA

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