Robert Gates: War on Iran Would Be ‘Catastrophic,’ Make Tehran Nukes ‘Inevitable’

Former defense secretary Robert Gates said a US strike on Iran would 'haunt us for generations'

A US or Israeli attack on Iran would “prove catastrophic” and “make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable,” former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a speech Wednesday night.

Neither the United States nor Israel is capable of wiping out Iran’s nuclear capability, Gates said, and “such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert.”

Not only would Iran be likely to reconstitute its defunct nuclear weapons program, but Tehran might also respond by disrupting world oil traffic in the Persian Gulf and launching a wave of terrorism across the region, Gates claimed.

“The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.”

Gates was reiterating what has become an emergent consensus within the military and intelligence community in the United States, that  a war on Iran – which Israel and many hawks in Congress have been pushing for – would not only be entirely discretionary, but would have disastrous consequences for Iran, the region, and the United States.

A report released last month by former government officials, national security experts and retired military officers concluded also that an attack would motivate Iran to restart its weapons development, and that the ensuing war would end up being “more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”

On the war strategists’ own terms, a war on Iran would backfire. But the human cost of such a war would also be immense. Even if a US or Israeli strike only targeted Iran’s nuclear sites and it didn’t result in larger land war, the toxic plumes released as a result of the strikes could kill or injure up to 70,000 civilians in nearby cities and towns.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for