My backyard faces out to the massive desert landscape of the American SouthWest (controlled by the Federal Bureau of Land Management). You could leave through my gate into the desert and start walking, and not find ANYTHING but desert for a few hundred miles.

What a great place to blow stuff up.

Halfway across the world in another desert region, Iran are beginning to make everybody nervous. Not only have they enriched uranium for a nuclear program in their underground labs, but this morning they’ve announced a ‘gift’ to Hamas-led Palestine of $50 million to compensate them for the shortfall left by the US and the EU, who have frozen aid payments to the Palestinians. And things are progressively getting worse.

According to Reuters, The Institute for Science and International Security have noticed a few changes in the Iranian desert landscape, including entrances to tunnels, successive layers of earth, apparent concrete slabs and more earth and other materials. They have, apparently, expanded their underground facilities and buried them deeper in order to protect their nuclear hocus-pocus from US air strikes. Bush denies that such strikes are on the cards at this point. And Iran says it “…would not be in the interest of the United States,” in any case.

Now, hypothetically. If the US wishes to knock out Iran’s nuclear capability, the job has been made more difficult by the existence of these reinforced bunkers. So there are two options. One, an incursion of ground troops to ensure that the bunkers are destroyed, from the inside out. Tehran deploys its own army to defend the facilities, the United States seizes Tehran – and we have another full-scale US invasion in the Middle East. How much worldwide (or American) support do you anticipate for that war, in view of Iraq? Option number two, develop bombs that can penetrate even these bunkers and destroy them from the air.

Enter the role of the Defense Department’s Nevada Test Site. If you walked out my gate and continued walking north-west for long enough (in this heat you’d need a few hundred bottles of water and a lot of sunscreen), you’d come upon a fence surrounding a site larger than the state of Rhode Island – almost 1400 square miles of private desert space. This space has been used for many years of nuclear weapons testing, and the ground has certainly been rattled a few times during that period. It is a completely secure site, military-patrolled by land and by air, allowing its personnel to operate in complete privacy. Yet it contains 400 miles of paved roads, 300 miles of unpaved roads, 10 heliports, 2 airstrips (one of which is capable of handling full-size jet aircraft), more than 1,100 buildings valued at more than $700 million, housing for more than 1,200, offices, laboratories, warehouses and training facilities; a hospital, post office, fire station, and sheriff’s substation.

Divine Strake is a Pentagon-planned bang scheduled for June 2nd at the Nevada Test Site. Nuclear testing stopped years ago, and Congress won’t authorise more nuclear tests, so it will be a blast using conventional explosives. But it won’t be a small bomb. This thing will be record-breaking. Almost 700 tons of ammonium nitrate. And the DTRA are excited. Wouldn’t you be? Their spokesman James Tegnelia, making the announcement, said, “Are you ready for this? … I don’t want to sound glib here but it is the first time that you’ll see a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons.”

(It turns out using Tegnelia to make the announcement wasn’t such a great idea. His obvious enthusiasm with regard to the project wasn’t reciprocated by environmentalist groups: “Harmony to the planet is being threatened once again in our everyday lives taking Mother Earth more out of balance in nature’s environments everywhere. How much more can she take?” Neither was it appreciated by Nevada Democrat Representative Shelley Berkley: “Anytime an administration official starts talking about mushroom clouds and Las Vegas, I want answers.” The DTRA later issued a statement: “All explosives, given the right thermal characteristics, create a cloud that may resemble a mushroom.”)

So, back to the point. Is this a test of a bunker-busting operation in Iran, perhaps? Tegnelia says that the test “…represents to us the largest single explosive that we could imagine doing conventionally to solve [the problem of how to penetrate such bunkers].” It’s clear that America wants to be prepared.

I think the world has a right to be nervous about Iran. But the lily-livered UN are not up to the challenge of dealing with it. The Blair government in the UK are already balking at the idea of another fight. The EU… forget it. There are thousands of American citizens in Israel, thought to be the focus of Tehran’s military ambitions (for which Iran is reportedly spoiling for a fight). For a libertarian like me, I don’t believe that it’s up to the United States and its taxpayers to be the world’s policemen. Nor am I sure I would support an air strike on Iran’s subterranean nuclear facilities at this point.

But, if it’s necessary, it seems that America alone is up to the challenge of protecting its citizens from aggression. And the cretinous pantywaists who think otherwise should not be a deterrent in that regard.

I’m looking forward to the fireworks on June 2nd.


John Wright