Heart-ache: U.S. attack would destroy Iranian antiquities

Count on al-Guardian to have its priorities straight. This comes from page two of the media’s “Iran = Iraq” playbook, page one being the claims of doctored intelligence about those Iranian IEDs. Page three will be hand-wringing about the looting that would ensue if we hit Bushehr.

There are plenty of good reasons not to attack (yet); the threat to ceramics is not one of them.

In his quiet office at the British Museum, among the portraits of long-dead explorers and copies of 3,000-year-old inscriptions, one of the greatest experts on the archaeology of the Middle East has a series of maps of Iranian nuclear installations spread out across his desk.

John Curtis’s maps fill him with foreboding: because they show how many of Iran’s nuclear plants are perilously close to ancient cultural sites.

Natanz, home to a uranium enrichment plant, is renowned for its exquisite ceramics; Isfahan, home to a uranium conversion plant, is also a Unesco world heritage site and was regarded in the 16th century as the most beautiful city on earth.

Other nuclear installations lie close to Shiraz, dubbed “the city of roses and nightingales”, famous for the tombs of medieval poets; Persepolis, the great palace of King Darius, whose ruins are still magnificent; and the 6th century BC tomb of Cyrus the Great, the Persian ruler who was said to have been buried in a coffin of gold.

This is the same paper that recently reported at the end of an article about there being no hard evidence of an Iranian bomb program how a document disclosed to inspectors two years ago — apparently inadvertently — contained instructions for building hemispheres of enriched uranium, the only known use for which is in nuclear warheads. Just this morning, ElBaradei told the IAEA that he can’t be sure if they’re working on weapons or not.

Exit question: Are the odds that many of the main Iranian nuclear sites would be near places of historical significance better or worse, do you suppose, than the odds of Hezbollah rockets being based near Lebanese population centers?