Report: U.S. “reassures” Israel that Iran is “at least 12 months” from nuclear bomb despite starting reactor today
There, there. You’re not going to get obliterated today; it’s just later on where things could get a little dicey. You’ve got at least 12 months, so it all depends on if you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person, you see.
Seriously, though, whatever the timetable, is there any political will left to ensure the Islamic Republic of Iran never reaches the next milestone — its first bomb test? An update on this story. “Iran ’12 months from nuclear weapon’ US warns as Bushehr reactor started,” from the Telegraph, August 21:
The US sought to reassure Israel that Iran is still a year away from building a nuclear weapon, as Iran’s leadership hailed the fuelling of its first nuclear power plant on Saturday.
Right. Just try not to think of the idea that the “dying” Lockerbie bomber could, theoretically, outlive your country as you know it, with the current word being that he could make it at least another two years.
Iranian television showed live pictures of Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi and his Russian counterpart watching a fuel rod assembly being prepared for insertion into the reactor at Bushehr.
“Despite all the pressures, sanctions and hardships imposed by Western nations, we are now witnessing the start-up of the largest symbol of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities,” Mr Salehi told a news conference afterwards. He described the plant as “a symbol of Iranian resistance and patience”.
The plant, built with Russian help, is expected to begin producing electricity in the next few weeks.
Also known in Moscow as Operation Really, We’re 100% Sure This Won’t Come Back to Bite Us.
Iran is suspected of wanting to build nuclear weapons. Successfully operating a nuclear reactor will be seen by many in the Middle East and wider afield as a significant step forward for its nuclear industry towards that goal.
Israel has often warned that it cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran, and there are still fears that Israel could launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran which could ignite war across the Middle East, although bombing an operative reactor could release deadly radioactivity.
As John Bolton warned about earlier this week in the report linked above.
Gary Samore, President Obama’s adviser on nuclear issues, tried to ease tensions among Israeli officials by telling the New York Times that the process of converting nuclear material into a weapon that worked would take at least 12 months.
Russia insists that its help at Bushehr will not assist Iranian efforts to build a bomb. Russia will both supply Bushehr with fuel and take back the spent fuel – which could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium.
“The construction of the nuclear plant at Bushehr is a clear example showing that any country, if it abides by existing international legislation and provides effective, open interaction with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), should have the opportunity to access the peaceful use of the atom,” said Sergei Kiriyenko, Russian state nuclear corporation chief, at the news conference.
The United Nations Security Council passed a fourth resolution in June calling on Iran to stop its uranium enrichment, and imposing new sanctions.
Over the next two weeks, 163 fuel assemblies, equal to 80 tons of uranium fuel, will be moved inside the building and then into the reactor core.
The uranium fuel used at Bushehr is well below the more than 90 percent enrichment needed for a nuclear warhead.
Here’s the problem: the Bushehr reactor is but one component of the Iranian nuclear program. It is ultimately, and at best, a front for other activities. As always, if Iran were truly only interested in the peaceful generation of electricity, why all the secrecy and subterfuge surrounding its nuclear program?
Iran says it plans to build other reactors and says designs for a second reactor in southwestern Iran are taking shape.