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Friday, March 23, 2007

Embassies preparing to evacuate Tehran

The Jerusalem Post is reporting this morning that foreign embassies have made preparations to evacuate Tehran out of fear of nuclear fallout in the event that Israel, the United States and/or other western countries attack Iran's nuclear plants.
According to foreign sources, foreign diplomats believe a possible attack would take place before the end of 2007. By that time, Iran might have enough enriched uranium to cause a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe from radioactive fallout should its nuclear facilities be damaged or destroyed in an attack.

Embassies in all countries generally have evacuation plans for their staff, but foreign sources describe the general atmosphere in Iran as one of heightened preparedness. Recently, several diplomatic missions based in Teheran have begun to reassess their plans, and embassies without permanent security officers have requested them.

Embassy experts reportedly are testing various evacuation options and logistics, such as timing routes to different destinations by different types of vehicles. The plans include evacuation for all staff.

Foreign sources say both the United States and Israel, who accuse Iran of wanting to develop nuclear weapons, want to give diplomatic efforts aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear drive the best possible chance to succeed.

But according to these sources, should the West or Israel feel that the time needed for diplomatic efforts is longer than the time it would take for Iran to obtain nuclear independence, they are likely to strike at Iran's main nuclear facilities before the damage done by such an attack would cause serious radiation fallout. Such fallout would likely kill many civilians and render some parts of Iran uninhabitable for an undetermined period of time.

According to this logic, the timing of such an attack would take place just before Iran has enriched an amount of weapons-grade material that, if damaged, would cause such a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe, it could be construed as a nuclear attack.

The assessments posit that Israel and the US will try to delay an attack until the last moment due to the expected Iranian counterattack and regional deterioration.

Similar dilemmas over timing were faced by Israel before the 1981 raid that destroyed Saddam Hussein's reactor at Osirak. According to "The Raid on the Osirak Nuclear Reactor," an article by researcher Avi Hein, the Israeli cabinet in 1981 received word that "a shipment of 90 kilograms of enriched uranium fuel rods is expected from France to Iraq, ready for radiation." The moment the rods would be placed in the reactor, there would be a danger of radiation fallout if the reactor was attacked. This was the decisive factor for deputy prime minister Yigael Yadin, who had initially opposed the plan to attack Osirak, but changed his mind after receiving the news about the fuel rods, Hein wrote.

According to other published sources on the Osirak strike, Israel felt any raid had to take place well before nuclear fuel was loaded to prevent radioactive contamination.

It is now known that during the strike preparations, one question affecting the timing was the estimated date the reactor would become "live," after which a strike could cause radiation fallout on civilians.
I think the attack is likely to be a lot sooner than the end of the year. If my prediction regarding Israel's coming war with Hezbullah and Syria is correct, I would look for an attack on Iran within a few weeks after that, i.e. sometime in June. Maybe around the anniversary of the Osirak attack.

The Osirak attack took place on June 7, 1981, on the eve of Shavuot. You will note that my predicted date for Israel's next war with Hezbullah and Syria is the day after Shavuot, which comes a bit earlier this year.


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