The Human Cost of Military Strikes Against Iran's Nuclear Facilities
- The Osirak analogy is the fantasy that there will be no blowback from strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. It discounts the complexity, severity, scale, consequences, and casualties such an operation would entail.
- As we have emphasized in other chapters, Iran’s nuclear program is not an empty shell, nor is it a single remote target. The facilities in Iran are fully operational containing hundreds of tons of toxic and radioactive materials , and thousands of personnel and support staff. Most importantly, they are located near major population centers. Furthermore, some of this critical facilities are heavily constructed and fortified, and thus difficult to destroy.
- The total number of fatalities in the 1981 Osirak raid was 10 Iraqis and one French civilian, Damien Chaussepied. The Iranian scenario will lead to tens of thousands of casualties, not to mention possible retaliation by the Iranian regime that will destabilize the region.
- We should not underestimate the political fallout from military strikes. Besides widespread civilian suffering, 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.
- Far from being a tactical solution to the nuclear impasse, military strikes can fall short of their declared objective. Instead of eliminating or delaying Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and Israel can find themselves drawn into yet another strategic quagmire.
- Strikes can make the restoration of Iran’s nuclear program a symbol of Iranian nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism. Far from encouraging Iran to become more pacific, they can make Iran more insecure and belligerent—intent on developing a strategic deterrent. And the regime can become more, not less, popular.
- It is the contention of this study that applying the Osirak “precedent” to Iran’s nuclear facilities can lead to gross underestimation of the scale and scope of damages to the Iranian people and the region.