By Claude Salhani, journalist, author and political analyst based in Beirut, specializing in the Middle East, politicized Islam and terrorism. He is also the former editor of the Middle East Times and. C the former International Editor with United Press International and also ran UPI’s Terrorism & Security Desks. Cross posted from OilPrice
A timely article by Wade Stone for Global Research examines what would happen to the oil producing nations of the Gulf in the event that Israel would target Iran’s nuclear reactors and facilities; the reply and the scenario given is nothing short of a nightmare. Most, if not all, the cities in the region of the Arabian Gulf – Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City, Riyadh and others – would become uninhabitable for decades to come.
The article provides a good study of the ensuing catastrophe that would result. Though frightening as it is, the article looks at the issue mostly from a technical perspective and does not convey enough the hellish reality of the immediate panic that would befall the region and indeed the world, given the repercussions resulting from the inter-dependency of nations today.
In the event of an attack by Israel on the Iranian sites at Bushehr, Natanz, Arak and Isfahan in order to prevent the Islamic Republic’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, and if the fallout was to hit certain weather conditions prevalent in the Gulf region the result is that nearly the entire region would become uninhabitable for decades to come. And says the author, the disaster would not be limited to the region, but depending on the weather pattern, the fallout may very well hit Israel and even Turkey.
Much of what would happen depends largely on the climatic conditions at the time of the attacks. Great desert storms known as the shamal and the sharqi, sweep down and blankets the entire region and would bring with it contaminated sand particles.
If you saw one of the Mission Impossible movies where Tom Cruise chases one of the bad guys through the streets of Dubai as a monstrous sand storm blows in, then you may have a better idea of what these storms refer to. Now imagine that same sand storm blow through the region only this time each little particle of sand contaminated by nuclear fallout. A single particle is all that is needed to contaminate a human being.
The author of the article states that the storm travels in a semi-circular route, at a speed of 30 to 300 kilometers through the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In other words the major oil producing centers as well as a large number of refineries would become contaminated.
Aside from the ecological disaster of which there would be no precedent, there is also the human aspect of the tragedy. And then the economic fallout as oil production from the region would plummet overnight.
Think of the disaster that such an impact would have on the price of oil if suddenly more than 17 million barrels per day comprising the joint production form Saudi Arabia (10 million bbl/d), the UAE (3.087 million bbl/pd) Qatar (1.63 million bbl/pd) and Bahrain (44,800 bbl/pd). Not to mention the oil from Iraq and Iran, that would plunge the world into one of the greatest crisis ever experienced.
Consider the consequences: the first tier would be ground zero, the immediate areas affected by the fall out. Here there would be sheer hysteria and pandemonium on a biblical scale as that area would witness a mass exodus by hundreds of thousands of residents, foreign and nationals, all trying to get out of the contaminated area as people in total panic would end up fighting each other for the last seats on airplanes out of the region.
Then imagine if you will the insanity as those who failed to secure air travel would get in their cars and start driving west.
The second tier of trouble would immediately be felt as an unprecedented oil shortage would create havoc on the world markets and stock exchanges. Wall Street, the FT100 and other international markets would crash, companies would collapse overnight.
The third tier of disaster would come from countries slightly removed from the front-line states as the after effects begin to settle in.
In terms of damages, said the author of the report “Think of the nuclear accident at Fukushima” in Japan says the author, “and multiply it by ten.” Fukushima was unquestionably the world’s worst nuclear disaster to date, surpassing Chernobyl in Ukraine, where the death from cancer reached a million.
“Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would leave the entire Gulf State region virtually uninhabitable,” writes Stone.
Okay, those in favor of military action by Israel and/or the United States on Iran’s nuclear facilities may argue that this is a worst case scenario and that any strike by Israel would be “surgical and tactical and precise.” And they may well be right. But even a best-case scenario where minimum nuclear waste is released into the atmosphere and claims that the heat from the fires caused by the bombing would incinerate all nuclear particles, there would still be some contamination.
So after all perhaps the great cities of the region would not become uninhabitable as imagined by one writer. Indeed, it may be hyped in order to grab readers’ attention. Maybe in the best case scenario there would be “minimum collateral damage” where “only” a million or so people would die over the span of a decade from cancers brought about by the attacks. What was it that Josef Stalin used to say about killing a million people? “It’s only a statistic.