Originally published at Digital Journal 

A Republican US congressman raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he advocated the use of nuclear weapons against Iran in a bid to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nukes it isn’t even trying to build.

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, a 36-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who represents portions of the San Diego area in the House, appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program Wednesday morning, where he advocated a US nuclear attack on Iran.

When asked if war with Iran was inevitable, Rep. Hunter said “I sure as hell hope not.” But if such a conflict were to occur, he asserted that the US should resort to nuclear weapons to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nukes of its own.

“I think a ground war in Iran with American boots on the ground would be a horrible thing,” Hunter said, referring to US failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he said taught America “its limitations.”

But while the loss of American troops’ lives would be “a horrible thing,” the potential for mass innocent civilian casualties caused by a nuclear strike apparently does not bother Hunter much.

“If you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground,” insisted Hunter. “You do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think there’s a way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.”

As far as nuclear weapons go, tactical warheads are usually of a much lower yield than other types of nukes. But they’re still nukes, and the prospect of the United States using them (America already holds the dubious distinction of being the only nation to ever wage nuclear war, and by choice) has raised eyebrows and ire around the world.

Critics are especially alarmed that a US politician would advocate the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear nation, a policy advocated by the George W. Bush administration but rejected by President Barack Obama.

“The preventive, first-use of nuclear weapons against Iran would would have a devastating impact on US national security and dismember US power and standing in the world,” cautioned Kingston Reif of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “That a senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee is even suggesting such a possible course of action is the height of reckless irresponsibility and so far out of bounds it is astonishing,” Reif told Defense News.

Furthermore, according to the latest US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, a consensus of all American intelligence agencies, Iran is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Still, Rep. Hunter believes that Iran’s leaders are irrational– an assertion refuted by Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, head of Israel’s military– and, unlike North Korea or the old Soviet Union, prone to dangerous behavior.

“With Iran’s government, the way that it is driven by radical extremist Muslims, that’s different from the self-preservation mindset that North Korea has in kind of the old Soviet model, that’s different from Iran’s government,” Hunter said during the C-SPAN interview. “When you’ll blow yourself up for your God, that makes you more dangerous than the sense of self-preservation that most people and most countries have.”

Rep. Hunter’s ‘martyr state myth’ remarks are contradicted by the fact that Iran has not launched a war of aggression against any nation since the 1700s, and while its ruling regime does sponsor groups considered terrorists by the United States, Israel and other Western nations, those countries also sponsor their own anti-Iranian terror by proxy, as evidenced by US support for the radical anti-regime terror group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK).

Hunter came alarmingly close to a racist remark when he said that Iranian officials are “not trustworthy” due to “Middle Eastern culture.”

Rep. Hunter is not the first prominent American conservative to call for a nuclear attack against Iran. In October, Sheldon Adelson, the single largest contributor to Republican campaign coffers, said the US should drop a nuclear bomb in the Iranian desert to scare the Tehran regime into abandoning its non-existent nuclear weapons program.

Adelson, a staunch supporter of Israel’s illegal occupation and settler colonization of Palestine, agrees with Hunter and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that negotiating with the Iranian regime in a bid for peace is a mistake. Hunter has called for increased economic sanctions against Iran, despite the historic deal reached between Tehran and world powers last month.

“I think that we should proceed with sanctions so that the Iranians know that this is not an American deal with them,” Hunter explained. “This is a Kerry/Obama deal, and the rest of Congress is not behind them.”