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From the “Why The Hell Not?” Department

June 3, 2010

According to the NYT, for the feds, the nuclear option is off the table:

Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said that neither Energy Secretary Steven Chu nor anyone else was thinking about a nuclear blast under the gulf. The nuclear option was not — and never had been — on the table, federal officials said.

“It’s crazy,” one senior official said.

Government and private nuclear experts agreed that using a nuclear bomb would be not only risky technically, with unknown and possibly disastrous consequences from radiation, but also unwise geopolitically — it would violate arms treaties that the United States has signed and championed over the decades and do so at a time when President Obama is pushing for global nuclear disarmament.

Ay, there’s the rub.  It’s not as if everything BP is trying isn’t “risky technically” and without “unknown and possibly disastrous consequences”.  Most of the reaction to the idea of nuking has so far been along the lines of what the “senior official” said: It’s crazy because it sounds crazy.  Over at NRO, Daniel Foster has been defending his column advocating nuking the well, in part by pointing out that we’ve done this before.  We did it in with Wigwam in the ‘50s and in the Aleutian Islands in the ‘70s.  This isn’t exactly uncharted territory for us—opponents just think the idea of nuking the oil spill is insane on its face because seems insane.  Well, it’s not that crazy, so why don’t you come up with a real reason to oppose it?

The Administration, on the other hand, does have a reason to oppose nuking, as the NYT points out.  Presumably, the President doesn’t want to use nukes because of his whole the-whole-world-needs-to-disarm schtick.  How can he sit around and tell Iran that they don’t need nukes when we’re using them ourselves.  Well, the answer is that you actually consider the possibility beforehand that we might actually need the nukes.  Unfortunately for the President, unless he dramatically changes his Iran approach immediately, the nuclear option really is off the table for him.  Too bad we didn’t think this through too well at the time.

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