January 2006 (vol. 22, #2)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2001 Physicians for Civil Defense


Last fall, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth got a lot of international media coverage.

Less noted was his question: “Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?” And his answer: “But you had best know that this slogan and goal are attainable.”

Iran's strategic war preparation plan is said to call for the “destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization.” According to its chief architect, Hassan Abbasi, it involves making use of “everything we have to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles.” He claims to have spied on 29 sensitive sites in the United States and the West and to know how to attack them.

Ahmandinejad's speech to 4,000 “students” (including soldiers for various terrorist organizations) was given against the backdrop of a giant hourglass, showing a cracked ball representing the United States at the bottom, and a ball representing Israel falling next (

The “World Without Zionism” university conference has been “duplicated like viral RNA on campuses the world over,” writes Ilana Mercer. Muslims worldwide are spewing “crude anti-Semitic propaganda unheard since Streicher,” and the Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is a best seller in the Arab world. Still, it appears that taking out the Big Satan (the U.S.) has priority over the Little Satan (Israel) (WorldNetDaily 1/6/06).

Iranian threats against Israel are not new. In a 2001 sermon, “pragmatist” Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said to be the second most powerful man in Iran, said: “The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything.... It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

A military parade in September 2003 displayed a Shihab-3 missile draped with a banner reading “Israel must be uprooted and erased from history” (Wall St J 1/16/06).

Recently, Ahmadinejad got the world's attention by removing United Nations seals on the uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz. Iran claims to be pursuing peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but it has everything needed for a nuclear weapons program. This is not illegal under the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)–but secrecy is.

Diplomacy, of course, is being tried, but some say a preemptive attack on Iran is likely this spring–more likely because of the incapacitation of Ariel Sharon, who vetoed this recommendations by Israeli generals (www.g2bulletin.com1/22/06). Binyamin Netayahu, former prime minister and leader of the Likud party, said that if he wins the March election, he would “continue the legacy of Menachim Begin, who thwarted Iran's neighbor, Iraq, from acquiring nuclear weapons by adopting bold and daring measures” (Guardian 1/13/06).

International events of concern:

Iran has blocked inspections, failed to explain the traces of weapons-grade uranium on its centrifuges, and refused to detail what assistance it has received from Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan (Michael Rubin, Wall St J 1/16/06).

Iran has reportedly been moving its mobile missile launchers every 24 hours (A href=""> 1/19/06).

Iran has begun to move its foreign currency reserves out of European banks, apparently in anticipation of U.N. sanctions. In 1979, Iran lost $14 billion when Jimmy Carter froze its assets (Washington Post 1/21/06).

German defense minister Franz Josef Jung told Bild am Sonntag that “we need all options.” President Jacques Chirac said that France could respond with nuclear weapons against any state-sponsored terrorist attack (My Way News 1/21/06).

Moscow has offered to move Iran's uranium-enrichment program to Russia (ibid.; Jim Heintz, AP 1/20/06). Iran has acquired Russian anti-missile defense systems. Last October, it launched the Sinah-1 spy satellite into orbit on a Russian rocket (Strategic Assessment, November 2005).

Last fall, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Iran had test-fired a missile from a merchant ship and detonated warheads in midair.

U.S. Reverberations

So far, the Bush Administration has not alerted Americans to the possibility of a military strike against Iran. However, the following U.S. actions are relevant:

The U.S. has sold Israel several thousand “smart air-launched” weapons, including about 500 “bunker buster” bombs, as well as equipping Israeli submarines with U.S. Harpoon missiles armed with nuclear warheads, according to the “progressive” website

The FBI and the Dept. of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST) have been monitoring more than 100 Muslim sites in the D.C. area and other cities in search of a terrorist nuclear bomb (U.S. News 12/22/05). The Dept. of Homeland Security has proposed accepting higher radiation contamination levels in the event of a “dirty bomb” attack (AAPS News of the Day #253).

Certain New York hospitals are being equipped with radiation detectors (AAPS News of the Day #252).

The CDC has issued a “pandemic flu planning checklist” that would “be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.” Items include ready-to-eat food, bottled water, flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, plastic bags, and soap ( You can get a list of DHS-recommended supplies at the checkout counter at Dollar Tree.

Emergency managers complain that every state is being required to come up with total relocation plans.

Failure of Imagination

Reviewing the response to Katrina, Irwin Redlener, M.D., writes: “We still lack the capacity to imagine what would or could actually happen in a catastrophic scenario.” An IPPNW member, Redlener helped create the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, which now imagines the “equitable distribution of resources”–but not, apparently, any distribution of radiologic instruments or civil defense information.


Guidance for Radiation Hazards

The DHS has issued new guidance for radiation hazards, stating that “based on intelligence information, the potential for terrorist attacks in the United States involving radiological materials or a nuclear device has grown.”

Apparently, the government recognizes that current standards could render huge areas uninhabitable, with crippling effects on the economy and recovery effort.

In comments submitted to FEMA, Physicians for Civil Defense president Jane Orient, M.D., writes:

We agree that flexibility is required in responding to incidents involving a radiological dispersal device (RDD) or an improvised nuclear device (IND). It is critical that actions taken do more good than harm. The dangers of panic, the shut-down of essential services, and disruption of the economy and social arrangements could vastly outweigh the supposed dangers of an increased exposure to radiation, particularly in the event of the use of an RDD.

The guidance, however, is still based on the linear no-threshold theory, and thus standards are still unrealistically low. The use of 2 mrem/hr as the dose-rate at which to control access to an area, or of 5 rem as the maximum that an emergency worker could receive, could significantly increase casualties among people who could otherwise be rescued.

The guidance states on p. 188: “No individual should be forced to perform a rescue action that involves substantial personal risk.” PCD writes that “no one should be forcibly prevented from undertaking lifesaving or property-preservation actions that constitute an acceptable risk to the worker or owner, from his own perspective, when balanced against the benefits of his action.” PCD also recommends basing risk assessment on “actual data rather than on the implausible and discredited linear no-threshold hypothesis.”

PCD comments are posted on our new website, Comments will be accepted until March 6. Follow the directions in the Notice for Draft Guidance, Federal Register, Jan 1, 2006, vol. 71, no. 1, pp 173-196, Z-RIN 1660-AZ02,


Interdiction vs. Mitigation

From a briefing statement recently presented to Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA):

“The Department of Homeland Security has placed great emphasis on the detection and mitigation of radiological and nuclear weapons. While this is one of the most important tasks assigned to the Department, the possibility of failure of interdiction must not be overlooked. Our country must also be prepared for post-attack scenarios where the loss of lives can be mitigated.

“The ANSI standards (American National Standards Institute) established for DHS radiation meters demand extreme sensitivity, accuracy and stability. These standards result in equipment so expensive that only limited quantities can be fielded. Instruments capable of detecting ceramics or diet salt (which are naturally radioactive substances) several meters away are certain to be useless in responding to a nuclear detonation! These instrument readings will totally `max out' and create confusion and panic where inexpensive high level detectors like the NukAlert will show where radiation levels are not acutely life threatening and therefore responders can go to work. There has been no emphasis on equipment suitable for true and effective Civil Defense; i.e. there has been no serious attention to preparing the public, or even most responders, for a nuclear attack, even though simple cost-effective steps could save countless lives should interdiction fail.”


False Positives, False Negatives

A container ship was detained off the coast of New Jersey because the Coast Guard team that boarded it detected radioactive cargo: clay tiles. In Los Angeles, the hot reading came from a gauge used to test the vessel's firefighting system.

Critics say the system would be ineffective at finding enriched uranium. ABC News managed to smuggle 15 lbs of depleted uranium in a lead container into Los Angeles. Although the container was targeted for examination, it was sent along (G2 Bulletin 1/2/06).

Millions of dollars are being spent on inspection systems. More than 600 Radiation Portal Monitors have been installed at major U.S. ports and border crossings. But the task is impossible. In 2001, 82 million individuals entered the United States at international airports, 400 million by land, and 10 million by sea, on 600,000 commercial aircraft, 130 million private cars, 11 million trucks, and 214,000 ships. More than 2.4 million freight cars and 8 million maritime containers enter. There are 3,700 terminals and 301 ports of entry–counting only the ones that are legal (NewsMax, December 2005).

Two seaports are currently capable of screening all cargo for nuclear material. The administration hasn't requested, and Congress hasn't appropriated, the $280 million needed to install screening equipment at all seaports (G2 Bulletin 1/2/06).


Truck Crashes; No Radiation Released

When a truck carrying radiologic material crashed in Westborough, MA, the police chief who first arrived on the scene knew there was no significant hazard. Westborough is the only town in mainland Massachusetts outfitted with NukAlerts, through PCD donations. A hazmat team that arrived after a long delay confirmed that radiation levels at the scene were normal.


Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

In the age of “asymmetrical warfare,” a technologic giant could be set back to 1850 with a single high-altitude explosion of a nuclear weapon, because of EMP. While some U.S. strategic military systems are protected against EMP, the entire U.S. commercial infrastructure, including the electric power grid, is completely vulnerable.

Sources of information: