Opposition to US Attack on Iran

  • Date: Nov 06 2007
  • Policy Number: 200718

Key Words: Nuclear Weapons, War

The American Public Health Association (APHA) Governing Council has a history of policy opposing war in the Middle East.1,2

Iran has continued work on nuclear enrichment programs, which raises concerns about its intention to develop nuclear weapons, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In violation of its own NPT obligations, the US government is developing plans to design and deploy refurbished or replacement warheads for the US nuclear stockpile and, by 2030, to modernize the production complex to be able to produce new generations of weapons with different or modified capabilities, at an estimated cost of hundreds of billions of dollars.4,5,6 Recent credible reports indicate the possibility that the United States may launch an attack on alleged Iranian nuclear facilities, including the possible use of nuclear weapons.7,8 Even a conventional military attack on nuclear facilities could lead to significant morbidity and mortality among neighboring civilian populations, while recent reports estimate up to millions of casualties in Iran and neighboring nations if nuclear weapons were used 9,10 resulting in possible regionwide conflict with potential massive death and destruction. The fiscal costs of a war in Iran, coming on top of the present and future costs of the current military conflict in Iraq, represent resources that could better be used to address current and future domestic and global public health and environmental health needs.11 

In 2003, the United States launched a “preemptive” attack on Iraq at a time when United Nations’ efforts to determine whether Iraq indeed had weapons of mass destruction and when international diplomatic efforts to prevent an attack on Iraq were continuing. Therefore, APHA calls on the US government to take the following actions: 

  1. Clearly state that it will not launch a preemptive military attack on Iranian facilities and explicitly rule out any possible use of nuclear weapons against Iran. 
  2. Vigorously pursue United Nations–authorized diplomatic initiatives to guarantee Iranian compliance with its NPT obligations not to develop nuclear weapons, while halting current US plans to develop and deploy nuclear weapons. 
  3. Explicitly reaffirm its historical commitment to international treaties aimed at curbing the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. 


  1. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 2002-11. Opposing war in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 2002. Available at: www.apha.org/legislative/policy/policysearch/index.cfm?fuseaction=view&id=287. Accessed December 3, 2007. 
  2. American Public Health Association. 2003. APHA Policy Statement 9923. Opposing war in the Middle East. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 2003. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1262. Accessed December 3, 2007. 
  3. Sanger DE, Broad WJ. Iran expanding nuclear effort, agency reports. New York Times, February 23, 2007. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/world/middleeast/23iran.html. Accessed January 1, 2008. 
  4. Broad WJ. New design for warhead is awarded to Livermore. New York Times March 3, 2007. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/03/washington/03nuke.html. Accessed January 1, 2008. 
  5. Sterngold J. Need for new U.S. nuclear arsenal disputed. existing warheads may last longer than believed, experts say. San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2006. Available at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/03/21/MNGL8HRDFL1.DTL. Accessed January 1, 2008. 
  6. Pincus W. U.S. plans to modernize nuclear arsenal. Washington Post, March 4, 2006, A2. 
  7. Hersh SM. The redirection. The New Yorker, March 5, 2007. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh. Accessed January 1, 2008. Available at: www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh. Accessed December 5, 2007
  8. Gardiner S. The end of the “summer of diplomacy”: assessing U.S. military options on Iran. Washington, DC: The Century Foundation; 2006. Available at: www.tcf.org/publications/internationalaffairs/gardiner_summer_diplomacy.pdf. Accessed November 3, 2006.
  9. Sidel VW, Geiger HJ, Abrams HL, Nelson RW, Loretz J. The threat of low yield earth penetrating nuclear weapons to civilian populations: nuclear “bunker busters” and their medical consequences. Cambridge, MA: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; 2003. Available at www.ippnw.org/ResourceLibrary/IPPNWEPWReport.pdf Accessed December 5, 2007.
  10. Physicians for Social Responsibility. Medical consequences of a nuclear attack on Iran. Washington, DC: Physicians for Social Responsibility; 2006. www.psr.org/site/PageServer?pagename=security_main_iranfactsheet. Accessed October 3, 2006.
  11. Sachs J. The end of poverty. Economic possibilities for our time. New York: Penguin Press; 2005.

Back to Top