Saturday, April 08, 2006

Nuke the Nukes?

Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker magazine is a reporter with good connections and a good track record of reporting.

His piece now on planning in Washington for a possible military strike against Iran is bound to be widely debated.

He claims that using nuclear weapons to strike at deep underground sites used by the Iranians is one of the options in the different plans.

Perhaps. Military planners have a tendency to include all sorts of options in their papers in order to explore them more fully.

But even if I consider the possibility of a strike against Iran as more than 50%, I would consider the possibility of them using nuclear weapons to take out the nuclear facilities to be in the one-digit range at the very most.

The political arguments against are much too overwhelming.

Whenever in the past different nuclear options have been on the table - and it has happened repeatedly - they have fairly rapidly been taken off the same table.

Add to that the fact that I'm not certain that they have nuclear warheads that are suitable for what is called deep earth penetration. Funds to develop such have been stopped by Congress repeatedly.

It's not easy to have a nuclear warhead diving and digging itself deep down in a mountain before exploding. They tend to disintegrate and break up fairly fast when crashed into the ground.

Of course you could compensate for the absence of that capability by having a much higher yield on a ground-burst warhead.

But not even the nuttiest planner would put that even as an option.

The unlikely nature of the nuclear part of the story apart, the story is certainly worth reading.

Nothing too sensational.

But - apart from the nuclear weapons part - nothing too unlikely.