Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum believes bombing Iranian nuclear facilities will teach Iran some lessons it badly needs.

Santorum, who is surging ahead in Iowa trial polls, said in an interview to NBC's Meet the Press, on Sunday, he wouldn't hesitate to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.

I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors, or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes, he said in the interview.

This may seem like a brave stand but the question needs to be asked - has Santorum thought of the consequences of such an act... on the U.S, its neighbours, its allies and on the world at large?

Santorum has long been critical of President Barack Obama's foreign polices and has often taken a hard stance on the Iran issue. In a nutshell, the Middle Eastern country has defied U.N. sanctions concerning nuclear capabilities and recently even threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial shipping route for international crude oil transportation.

Iran also announced, on Sunday, it had tested its first nuclear fuel rod, according to an AP report. Now, although the country has always maintained it intends to use its nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes, recent U.N. reports, released in the second week of November, paint a different picture. A nuclear-armed Iran does pose a serious threat.

However, despite that possibility, is Santorum's statement merited?

One must argue that it seems to be something of an irresponsible statement, principally because such an act is more easily spoken about than actually carried out. There is the serious potential of significant short and long-term damage, to both the U.S. and its regional ally - Israel. It is common sense... bombing a nuclear facility is not the same as bombing normal buildings or terrorist headquarters. Japan and Russia can testify to the horrors of nuclear radiation.

With the exception of assumptions based on largely fragmented pieces of evidence, there is no accurate information on the actual nuclear (weapons or otherwise) capabilities of Iran. Bombing a target, therefore, would be a difficult proposition. Furthermore, at the risk of repeating a statement, bombing nuclear institutions (assuming they can be accurately identified) is not necessarily a wise idea... nuclear radiation, even on a small level, can lead to a regional disaster.

Moreover, if recent statements from Iran, on resuming the peace talks, are any indicator, the country fears sanctions on oil exports more than it does military force.

In addition, the first casualty of military action could conceivably be Israel, an American ally. If reports are true, then Iran does have long-range missiles which can target key Israeli cities (such missiles - naval cruise missiles - were reportedly test fired on Monday). Interestingly (and this is not without a touch of irony), military attacks on Israel by Iran could damage nuclear installations (of which Israel reportedly has undeclared numbers) in that country.

Now, regardless of who has what type of installation, the point must be that ill-conceived military action could lead to a nuclear war... a state of affairs nobody in the world would like to see.

Iran understands its position. Quite naturally, Iran will also know the U.S. cannot afford to bomb its facilities, without risking contamination. So... when a presidential hopeful makes a statement such as this... it really only borders on the ridiculous.