Tuesday, April 04, 2006

From nuclear to biological?

The US could be planning to accuse Iran of releasing "deliberately mutated" H5N1 virus carried by migrating wild birds and thus justify military action against Iran citing a "biological" threat posed by Tehran. That action , which will target alleged biological laboratories and facilities in Iran, will inevitably lead to broader action since the Iranians would retaliate for the US attack and the Americans would hit back.
The key words here are "could be," mind you.
When could this happen? As early as before the end of April; that is if one is inclined to believe Dr Jeorge Hirsch, professor of physics at University of California  San Diego and a researcher who has written numerous articles on the US approach to the Middle East.
 In an article appearing on www.antiwar.com, Hirsch, a strong critic of the Bush administration who maintains that the US is targeting Iran for a nuclear strike, presents a compelling case.
According to Hirsch, the US administration has already set the "legal" ground for military action against Iran. He refers to the White House's National Security Strategy of March 16, 2006.
The strategy document states that "the US faces no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."
The document accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism, threatening Israel, seeking to thwart Middle East peace, distrupting democracy in Iraq and denying the "aspirations of its people for freedom."
Citing the government's duty to protect the "American people and interests," the document states that "there are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD."
It goes on to say: "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act pre-emptively.
"When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialise.
"Biological weapons also pose a grave WMD threat because of the risks of contagion that would spread disease across large populations and around the globe."
"Countering the spread of biological weapons .... will also enhance our nation's ability to respond to pandemic public health threats, such as avian influenza," it says.
Were the words "avian influenza" deliberately included in the document or was it a passing reference?
Well, Hirsch seems to think it was deliberate.
He argues that the declarations in the strategy document have to be seen in tandem with a 2005 US State Department "finding" that "based on all available information, Iran has an offensive biological weapons programme in violation of the BWC (biological weapons convention)."
The scenario emerging from the strategy document and the State Department "finding" is that the US would use the perceived biological weapons threat to militarily strike at Iran.
"The most likely biological threat to be invoked, because it has a natural time element associated with it, is the threat of a bird flu pandemic caused by a deliberately mutated H5N1 virus carried by migrating wild birds," he writes.
He also points out that the March 16 document contains a provision for the US to use use nuclear weapons against Iran when it states that the US could employ "all elements of national power..."
"Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role," states the document. "We are strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities)."
The recently released "National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction" also that states "offensive operations may include kinetic (both conventional and nuclear) and/or non-kinetic options (e.g. information operations) to deter or defeat a WMD threat or subsequent use of WMD."
Hirsch also refers to the ongoing dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.
"There is of course also the claim that Iran is a threat because it intends to develop nuclear weapons," he states. "The sole purpose of that claim, which flies in the face of all available evidence, is to generate a diplomatic stalemate at the UN that will allow Bush to state that other nations share the US concern but not the resolve to act. However, the actual trigger for the bombing to begin will not be the long-term and by now discredited nuclear threat, rather it is likely to be the threat of an imminent biological attack."
According to Hirsch, the US has resorted to deception when it assured Russia and China that the recently approved UN Security Council statement does not automatically mean military action against Iran after 30 days.
"True to its promise, the US will attack before the 30-day deadline imposedby the UNSC for Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment activity, ie. before the end of April. The 'justification' is likely to be an alleged threat of imminent biological attack with Iran's involvement," asserts Hirsch.