Dangers of Nuclear War

From October 12 to 15, 2010, I had extensive and detailed discussions with Fidel Castro pertaining to the dangers of nuclear war, the global economic crisis, and the nature of the New World Order. A central concept put forth by Fidel Castro in the interview is that only a far-reaching "Battle of Ideas" could change the course of world history. The objective is to prevent the unthinkable, a nuclear war, which threatens to destroy life on earth. The battle of ideas involves confronting the war criminals in high office, breaking the U.S.-led consensus, changing the mindset of hundreds of millions of people, abolishing nuclear weapons, restoring the truth, and establishing the foundations of world peace.


Chossudovsky: What is the risk of a nuclear war and the threat to human beings?


Castro: For quite a long time, I've begun to worry about the imminence of a dangerous and probable war that could very rapidly evolve towards a nuclear war. Before that I had concentrated all my efforts on the analysis of the capitalist system in general and the methods that the U.S. imperial tyranny has imposed on humanity.


During the Cold War, people talked about an apparent peace between the USSR and the United States, the famous MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) was guaranteed.


Chossudovsky: After the Cold War, particularly after September 11, America's nuclear doctrine started to be redefined.


Castro: One of the things that caught my attention was the sinking of the Cheonan during a military maneuver. That was the flagship of the South Korean Navy, an extremely sophisticated vessel. We found on Global-Research a journalist's report that offered coherent information about the sinking of the Cheonan—that it could not have been the work of a submarine manufactured by the USSR more than 60 years ago.


The provocation against the Democratic Republic of Korea added to our concerns about aggression against Iran. I had been closely following the political process in that country. We knew perfectly well what happened there during the 1950s, when Iran nationalized the assets of British Petroleum—which at the time was called the Anglo Persian Oil Company. In my opinion, the threats against Iran became imminent in June 2001 after the adoption of Resolution 1929 on June 9, when the United Nations Security Council condemned Iran for the research it was carrying out and its production of small amounts of 20 percent enriched uranium, and accused it of being a threat to the world. Shortly after the Resolution was adopted, a U.S. aircraft carrier embedded in a combat unit, plus a nuclear submarine, went through the Suez Canal with the help of the Egyptian government. Naval units from Israel joined, heading for the Persian Gulf and the seas near Iran.


The sanctions imposed by the United States and its NATO allies against Iran were absolutely abusive and unjust. I cannot understand why Russia and China did not veto Resolution 1929. In my opinion this has complicated the political situation terribly and has placed the world on the brink of war.


I remember previous Israeli attacks against Arab nuclear research centers. They first attacked and destroyed the one in Iraq in June 1981. They did not ask for anyone's permission, they did not talk to anybody. They just attacked them and the Iraqis had to endure the strikes.


In 2007, they repeated the same operation against a research center being built by Syria. What was not clear to me was the underlying reason why Syria did not denounce the Israeli attack against that research center where, undoubtedly, they were working on something with cooperation from North Korea. That was something legal; they did not commit any violation. I don't understand why this was not denounced because, in my opinion, that would have been important.


I believe there are reasons to think they will try to do the same against Iran: destroy its research centers or the power generation centers of that country.


Chossudovsky: I remember that just after the Security Council's decision, with the endorsement of China and Russia, the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs said: "Well, we have approved the Resolution, but that is not going to invalidate our military cooperation with Iran." That was in June. A few months later, Moscow confirmed that military cooperation [with Iran] was going to be frozen, so now Iran is facing a very serious situation, because it needs Russian technology to maintain its security.


I think that all the threats against Russia and China are intent on preventing the two countries from getting involved if there is a war with Iran. This is a way for the U.S. and NATO to extend their war in the Middle East without a confrontation with China and Russia.


Castro: In my modest opinion, that resolution should have been vetoed. Because everything has become more complicated in several ways. Militarily, because of what you are explaining regarding, for example, the commitment that existed and the contract that had been signed to supply Iran the S-300, which are very efficient anti-aircraft weapons.


There are other things regarding fuel supplies, which are very important for China because its growing economy generates a greater demand for oil and gas. Even though there are agreements with Russia for oil and gas supplies, they are also developing wind energy and other forms of renewable energy. They have coal reserves but nuclear energy will not increase much, only 5 percent for many years. In other words, the need for gas and oil in the Chinese economy is huge and I cannot imagine how they will be able to get all that energy and at what price, if the country where they have important investments is destroyed by the U.S.


But the worst risk is the very nature of war in Iran. Iran is a Muslim country that has millions of trained combatants who are strongly motivated. There are tens of millions of people who are under military orders, they are being politically educated and trained, men and women alike. There are millions of combatants trained and willing to die. These are people who will not be intimidated and who cannot be forced to change. On the other hand, there are the Afghans being murdered by U.S. drones—there are the Pakistanis, the Iraqis, who have seen one to two million compatriots die as a result of the antiterrorist war invented by Reagan. You cannot win a war against the Muslim world. That is sheer madness.


Chossudovsky: It's true their conventional forces are very large. Iran can mobilize in a single day several million troops and they are on the border with Afghanistan and Iraq, and even if there is a blitzkrieg war, the U.S. cannot avoid a conventional war that is waged very close to its military bases in that region.


Castro: But the fact is that the U.S. would lose that conventional war. Nobody can win a conventional war against millions of people who would not concentrate their forces in large numbers in a single location for the Americans to kill them. I was a guerrilla fighter and I had to think seriously about how to use the forces we had and I would never have made the mistake of concentrating those forces because the more concentrated the forces, the greater the casualties caused by weapons of mass destruction.


Chossudovsky: As you mentioned previously, China and Russia's decision in the Security Council, their support of Resolution 1929, is in fact harmful to them because Russia cannot export weapons, thus its main source of income is now frozen. Iran was one of the main buyers of Russian weapons and that was an important source of hard currency earnings which supported Russia's consumer goods economy.


The fact that China and Russia have accepted the consensus in the UN Security Council is tantamount to saying: "We accept that you kill our economy and, in some ways, our commercial agreements with a third country." I suppose—even though I am not a politician—that there must be tremendous divisions within the leadership, both in Russia and in China, for that to happen. How do you see this?


Castro: How do I see the general situation? Let me put it this way, the conventional war would be lost by the U.S. and nuclear war is not an alternative for anyone. A nuclear war would inevitably become global. Thus, the danger in my opinion exists with the current situation in Iran that the war would end up being a nuclear war.


Chossudovsky: In other words, since the U.S. and its allies are unable to win the conventional war, they are going to use nuclear weapons, but that too would be a war they couldn't win, because we are going to lose everything.


Castro: Everyone would be losing that war. The other thing which is also very important is the attempt [by the Pentagon] to transform nuclear weapons into conventional tactical weapons. Today, I was reading about a news dispatch stating that the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were drawing up strong protests about the fact that the U.S. had just carried out subcritical nuclear tests. They're called subcritical, which means the use of the nuclear weapon without deploying all the energy that might be achieved with critical mass.


The U.S. says that it has to make these tests because they are necessary to maintain the "security of its nuclear arsenal," which is the same as saying: since we have these great nuclear arsenals, we are doing this in order to ensure our security.


Chossudovsky: After the Cold War, the idea of nuclear weapons with a "humanitarian face" was developed, saying that those weapons were not really dangerous, that they do not harm civilians. And in some way the nuclear weapons label was changed. Therefore, according to their criteria, tactical nuclear weapons are no different from conventional weapons. Now in the military manuals they say that tactical nuclear weapons are weapons that pose no harm to civilians.


Castro: In Hiroshima, one single bomb killed 100,000 people. Just imagine a bomb having six times the power of that one bomb. It is absurd. They attempt to present it as a humanitarian weapon that could also be available to troops in the theater of operations. So at any given moment any commander in the theater of operations could be authorized to use that weapon as one that was more efficient than other weapons, something that would be considered their duty according to military doctrine and the training he/she received at the military academies.


Chossudovsky: The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as far as I know, is being undertaken by several European NATO countries . This is the case of Belgium, Holland, Turkey, Italy, and Germany. Thus, there are plenty of these "little nuclear bombs" very close to the theater of war. We also have Israel. I don't think that Israel is going to start a war on its own; that would be impossible in terms of strategy and decision-making.


However, it might act if the U.S. gives Israel the green light to launch the first attack. That's within the realm of possibilities, even though there are some analysts who now say that a war on Iran will start in Lebanon and Syria with a conventional border war and then that would provide the pretext for an escalation in military operations.


Castro: We also know about Israel's concerns regarding that. The Lebanese are people with a great fighting spirit who have three times the number of reactive missiles they had in the former conflict with Israel and Lebanon, which was a great concern for Israel because they need—as the Israeli technicians have asserted—the air force to confront that weapon.


The amount of weapons owned by one of the least powerful nuclear powers, India or Pakistan, would cause an explosion sufficient to create a nuclear winter from which no human being would survive. In a matter of weeks, the sunlight would no longer be visible.


I think nobody on earth wishes the human species to disappear. And that is the reason I am of the opinion that what should disappear are not just nuclear weapons, but also conventional weapons. We must provide a guarantee of peace to all people without distinction, to the Iranians as well as the Israelis. Natural resources should be distributed. We are almost seven billion inhabitants and we need to implement a demographic policy. We need many things and when you put them all together, you ask yourself: "Will human beings be capable of understanding that and overcome all those difficulties?"


Chossudovsky: I think what you are saying is that at the present time, the great debate in human history should focus on the danger of nuclear war that threatens the future of humanity and that any discussion we have about basic needs or economics requires that we prevent the occurrence of war and establish global peace so that we can then plan living standards worldwide based on basic needs. But if we do not solve the problem of war, capitalism will not survive, right?


Castro: No, it cannot survive. The capitalist system and the market economy that suffocate human life are not going to disappear overnight, but imperialism based on force, nuclear weapons, and conventional weapons with modern technology have to disappear if we want humanity to survive.


In Chile, 33 miners were trapped 700 meters underground and the world rejoiced at the news that 33 miners were saved. What will the world do if it becomes aware that 6,877,596,300 people need to be saved? Why not save the nearly 7 billion people trapped by the terrible danger of perishing in a horrible death like those of Hiroshima or Nagasaki?


Chossudovsky: The media, particularly in the West, are hiding the most serious issue that potentially affects the world. Both Clinton and Obama have said that they have contemplated using nuclear weapon in a so-called preventive war against Iran. Well, how do we answer?


Castro: If a war breaks out in Iran, it will inevitably become a nuclear war and a global war. So that's why we were saying it was not right to allow such an agreement in the Security Council because it makes everything easier, do you see?


Chossudovsky: I believe it is very important that world opinion comprehends the war scenario. You clearly state that they would lose the war, the conventional war. They are losing it in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has more conventional forces than those of NATO in Afghanistan.


Castro: They have 450 targets marked out in Iran and, of these, some, according to them, will have to be attacked with tactical nuclear warheads because of their location in mountainous areas and at the depth at which they are situated [underground]. Many Russian personnel and persons from other nationalities collaborating with them will die in that confrontation.


In the case of Iran, we are getting news that they are digging into the ground and when they are asked about it, they say that they are making cemeteries to bury the invaders. I don't know if this is meant to be ironic, but I think that one would really have to dig quite a lot to protect their forces from the attack which is threatening them.


Chossudovsky: Sure, but Iran has the possibility of mobilizing millions of troops.


Castro: Not just troops, but the command posts are also decisive. In my opinion, dispersion is very important. The attackers will try to prevent the transmission of orders. Every combat unit must know beforehand what they have to do under different circumstances. The attacker will try to strike and destabilize the chain of command with its radio-electronic weapons. All those factors must be kept in mind. If 31 years ago, Iranian combatants cleaned the mine fields by advancing over them, they will undoubtedly be the most fearsome adversaries that the United States has ever come across.


Michel Chossudovsky is a writer, professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, and economic advisor to a number of organizations. He is editor for the Centre for Research on Globalization (globalresearch.ca) where this article first appeared. He is the author of The Globalisation of Poverty and is a seven-time recipient of the Project Censored Award.