October 5, 2012
A report released by the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah delves into the human and environmental consequences of an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
“In our assessment, it is highly likely that the physical and thermal casualties as the result of the strikes will exceed 5,000 personnel at the nuclear sites. The secondary civilian casualties as a result of exposure to the release of toxic and radioactive materials could increase this number to over 80,000 citizens,” the executive summary states.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranian civilians will be “exposed to highly toxic chemical plumes and, in the case of the destruction of operational reactors, radioactive fallout in Arak and Bushehr.”
Afshin Molavi, an Iran expert and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, told Golnaz Esfandiari, a senior correspondent with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, that the study covers a topic rarely broached in the discussion about Israel and the U.S. attacking Iran over its perceived nuclear weapons program.
“People talk very callously about the prospect of military strikes, and they frame it in the geopolitical fallout, the geo-economic fallout, what will happen to the oil price and all of these issues. But nobody has ever talked about the humanitarian consequences of a military strike on Iran,” Molavi said. “Those humanitarian consequences are grave, so I think this report fills a very important vacuum. It needs to be read by policy makers at the highest levels in Western governments; it needs to be read in Israel; it needs to be read all over the world.”
In addition to detailing the cost in human life an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would have, the report covers the psychological impact on the Iranian people. “The potential long-term political and psychological impact of military strikes on the Iranian population cannot be underestimated. An entire generation will likely feel enmity toward those who supported the attack, or failed to prevent it,” the executive summary states.
Earlier this week, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the “results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.”
On Friday, arch globalist Henry Kissinger weighed in on the prospect of an attack. “We cannot subcontract the right to go to war. That is an American decision,” he told the Washington Post. The United States should draw a “private red line” that would be “publicly decided in terms of tactical necessities,” Kissinger said.
On September 28, Italy’s foreign minister said an Israeli attack against Iranian nuclear facilities is a distinct possibility. “The card of military intervention by Israel to hit Iranian nuclear sites … is certainly a card that is still on the table,” Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said. “I consider it an option of extreme last resort that would have such a grave backlash that everything must be done so that this does not happen.”