by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 3, 2010


Those who seek an insight into the mindset of the Islamic regime in Iran need only read this Christopher Hitchens article on disastrous earthquakes just waiting to happen:

. . . “In Tehran, Iran’s capital, Dr. [Roger] Bilham [a seismologist at the University of Colorado] has calculated that one million people could die in a predicted quake similar in intensity to the one in Haiti.” (Italics added.) Tehran is built in “a nest of surrounding geologic faults,” and geologists there have long besought the government to consider moving the unprotected and crumbling capital, or at least some of its people, in anticipation of the inevitable disaster.

But the Iranian regime, as we know, has other priorities entirely, and it has worked very hard to insulate not its people from earthquakes, but itself from its people. I remember sitting in one of Tehran’s epic traffic snarls a few years ago and thinking, “What if a big one was to hit now?” This horrible thought was succeeded by two even more disturbing ones: What if the giant shudder came at night, when citizens were packed tightly into unregulated and code-free apartment buildings? And what would happen to the secret nuclear facilities, both under the ground and above it? I know what the mullahs would say—that the will of Allah was immutable. But what would the survivors think when they looked around the (possibly irradiated) ruins and saw how disposable their leaders had considered them to be?

The following observation is entirely on the money:

This outcome would be incomparably worse than the consequences of any intervention to arrest the Iranian nuclear program. I have droned on about this before, and I now drone on again. While the “negotiations” on Iran’s weaponry are being artificially protracted by an irrational and corrupt regime, it should become part of our humanitarianism and our public diplomacy to warn the Iranian people of the man-made reasons that the results of a natural calamity would be hideously multiplied in their case. This, together with the offer of immediate help in earthquake-proofing, enhanced from our experiences in California, is nothing less than a moral responsibility. Together with the cross-border implications of an earthquake plus ill-maintained covert nuclear facilities, it also drives home the point that the future of Iran is not the “internal affair” of a regime that dreams luridly of one apocalypse while inviting a cataclysm of a quite different sort. Down with the earthquake deniers! Long live democratic seismology!


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