The Iran-Divine Strake Connection
By Andrew Kishner
26 June, 2008
To a few individuals in the civilian and defense communities, Divine Strake was more than just an exercise to determine the lowest nuclear calibration needed to destroy a hardened underground bunker in limestone geology. The 'other' purpose of Divine Strake, one that I personally never had much belief in, was to conduct a 'dry run' on an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Such an event would have disastrous radiological consequences not just for Iran, but also Pakistan, China, and other nations in that entire region. The 'thinking' is that if you hit a deeply buried object with a nuclear bomb, the 'dirty stuff' most likely will not just stay in the ground. That's where the term 'bunker buster' becomes infused with the word 'fantasy'. It seems that there really are no ideal conditions for a fully contained, successful bunker buster. The reason is that even if a detonation can result in the explosion being contained beneath the surface, the event will still result in a collapsed crater or at the very least an open passageway from which the bomb entered. Harmful clouds of radioactive gasses will emerge vertically up through the crater or the passageway and reach the surface where gasses and contaminated particulates can travel over a great area.
Divine Strake, in the eyes of a few defense and other conspiracy theorists, was a dry run to see what will happen when radioactive dust is thrown into the atmosphere. This is where you have to put on your 'I'm thinking sinister' hat and go along for a bumpy ride: Since the DOE knew there was plutonium in the soils at the Divine Strake ground-zero and plutonium is a good substitute in experiments for uranium since the two closely resemble each other, the DOE would have the perfect rock formation, blast size, charge depth, tunnel depth, etc... and surrogate radiological substance at the Nevada Test Site to determine the size and toxicity of the plume that may be emitted from a less-than-perfect nuclear bunker blast on a uranium-packed facility in Iran. Where would the uranium dust go? How far? What would be the health effects?
This is really no less wacky than many other conspiracy theories since it would mean that the people in the American West would have been used as guinea pigs to determine how much damage an attack on Iran could have on peoples in China and Pakistan and other nations. Then again, the people in the American West WERE guinea pigs for atomic experiments at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, etc... The implications of irradiating people in Iran, China and Pakistan and neighboring countries and therefore the severe diplomatic fallout would be enough worry to military planners to justify 'playing out the scenario' on Westerners to see how much cancer and deaths would follow from the leaky bunker 'bust' on Iran's facilities. Then the military planners could multiply the toxicity resulting from the 'smaller event' from the Divine Strake test several times to equate with the estimate of exposure from bombing Iran's facilities and they'll finally have a 'collateral damage' statistic of thousands or millions exposed. Whittling that number down to likely immediate or near-term deaths and then it becomes a routine exercise that insurance companies do all-the-time: can we invest in this or is there too much risk?
If this conspiracy theory were correct, then there would have had to been a
plan for extensive radiological data measurement upon the successful detonation
of Divine Strake. Low and behold, the DOE provided the Nevada Bureau of Air
Pollution Control with plans in May 2006 for an air monitoring strategy for
Divine Strake. It would have involved setting up an array of 14 high-volume air
samplers that would be placed in locations based on anticipated wind patterns
after Divine Strake. These samplers would be supplemented by data from existing
on-site and off-site monitoring stations in and around the Nevada Test Site.
The more widely held belief regarding Divine Strake was that it was a military exercise not unlike those that happen in the waterways between countries that aren't getting along. Deploying war-craft and blowing up stuff in international waters is standard protocol nowadays for threatening another nation. We supposedly can't just threaten a non-nuclear state with nuclear attack, since that is banned under international treaty, but we can certainly conduct a nuclear simulation over a buried tunnel, call it a ground-shock experiment, but everyone knows what we're doing and whom it's for.
Without missing a beat after Divine Strake's cancellation in early 2007, the Department of Defense asked Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which provided support for the planning of the test, to start making plans to carry out Divine Strake via computer simulation. The simulation, which will be completed this year, will use data from a small nuclear blast (Shot Diablo Hawk) conducted at the Nevada Test Site in 1978. (Source: www.ees.lanl.gov/flyers/09TunnelTargetDefeat2.pdf)
It is difficult, and disturbing, to think that our government may have considered executing such a heinous crime - a radiological fallout risk assessment on Americans - in order to calculate the impacts of yet another potential heinous crime on Iran and its neighbors. Theories being what they are - just theories until being proven - what is fact is that the impacts from the last 'nuclear war' haven't been properly assessed. Hundreds of millions of tons of fission byproducts pumped into the environment from underground and atmospheric testing by the U.S. and other nuclear powers since 1945 have circled the globe, entered food and water supplies, and continue to pay their toxic dividends. Some of fallout's common radioisotopes won't decay to safe levels for hundreds or hundreds of thousands of years and continue to cause various forms of cancers, and immune and neurological diseases. Few studies have been concluded to assess the far-reaching impacts of this most recent radiological disaster. These facts are more difficult to digest than conspiracy theories because a horrific crime has already happened, and it is that much more disturbing to those who don't know the truth. The immense suffering and loss experienced by 'downwinders' across the globe from nuclear fallout, mishaps and accidents (e.g. Chernobyl), is so deep and scarring to our civilization that no nuclear strike, or even a nuclear strike simulation, should ever be considered for whatever reason. Nuclear weapons will always be the enemy of humankind no matter who has them.
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