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Hunter’s ‘Nuke Iran’ suggestion reprehensible

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) made a serious error in his comment referenced in The Hill’s article “GOP’s Hunter blasted for talking about nuking Iran” on Dec. 5. Suggesting a nuclear first-strike on a nation that is not known to possess nuclear weapons is dangerous rhetoric. For a military-veteran and now congressman on the Armed Services Committee, his comment is short-sighted on the strategic and political implications such a strike would have; not to mention his words are morally reprehensible.

In a tactical nuclear strike on Iran, the U.S. would likely use the B61 nuclear gravity bomb deployed from a fighter jet or strategic bomber. There are several versions of the B61. Each version has a variable explosive yield in the range of 0.3 to 300 kilotons — the middle of that range would produce a blast 10 times that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Let us assume Rep. Hunter’s preposition is to attack nuclear facilities in Iran, and not population centers, to set Iran back “a decade or two or three.”

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Rep. Hunter’s proposed nuclear strike may not include one or two or three tactical nuclear weapons — especially if the weapons used were on the smaller end of the explosive yield spectrum — it could include dozens of nukes detonated over several locations throughout Iran. Such a “massive aerial bombardment” could potentially last days or weeks. The resulting radiation fallout of such a military action would be catastrophic to the entire region. The prevailing wind direction in Iran travels east, meaning nuclear fallout could spread to Afghanistan, where it could kill American troops. It could potentially spread to parts of Pakistan and India as well, important U.S. allies.

Every member of Congress should be asking what the political implications of a nuclear strike on Iran would be; what would they say in Riyadh, Cairo or Ankara? Would they sympathize with Iran and turn their backs on the United States during this important time?

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people would die as a result of any nuclear strike on Iran — many from the immediate blast, but most would perish from the forthcoming radiation fallout, overwhelmed health services and a shortage of non-irradiated food and water. It would be the human tragedy of the 21st century, and Rep. Hunter is only concerned that it would cost billions of dollars to undertake. 

This country cannot afford such a dangerous proposition.”

From Eric Tamerlani, program 
assistant on nuclear disarmament 
at the Friends Committee on 
National Legislation, Washington, D.C.


CPUC must consider its motives, responsibilities

Professor Max Minzner’s Dec. 11 opinions piece on The Hill’s Congress Blog (“Regulators should carefully consider size and scope of penalties for accidents,”) skillfully explained the pitfalls associated with some calling for a $4 billion fine against PG&E.

Although only a potential recommendation to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), such an outlandish move shows just how out of touch some California officials have become with their roles and responsibilities as effective stakeholders and regulators.

Minzner correctly highlights the futile enforcement strategy the CPUC has set for all future penalties. Enforcement actions have but one, and singular, purpose: to improve safety by encouraging voluntary compliance with the law.

Improving safety requires the steady hand of a regulator willing to stand up to politicians, lawyers and special interest groups. San Bruno should not be about headlines.

Improving safety also requires patience. 

It requires a process where progress is encouraged while oversight is maintained.

It requires long-term investments in infrastructure; and it requires the leveraging of technology in order to ensure the safest energy transportation system possible. 

As everyone waits for the Administrative Law Judges recommendation, the CPUC must carefully consider its motives, options and responsibilities.

From Brigham A. McCown, first acting administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Washington, D.C.


2014 is the year for 
gun control legislation

My heart aches for the families of the 26 victims of last year’s massacre in Newtown. Dec. 14 is, and always will be, their Dec. 7, Nov. 22 or 9/11. As I recall, President Obama told the nation that was the worst day of his presidency.  

No one should ever forget where they were when the news of the Sandy Hook shootings was announced.  I just wish the leadership of the National Rifle Association and members of Congress didn’t have selective amnesia. 

Given Washington’s limited response to the tragedy, a number of newspaper columnists and editorial writers have posed this question to their readers: Have we let down the victims of last December’s rampage? Instead of asking the question, I wish they had made a declarative statement. Yes, we have let them down!

I hope 2014 is the year Congress enacts meaningful gun control legislation.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.