Stopping Iran’s progress is about to get a lot harder, as John Bolton observes below. If the political will to stop Iran from developing the capability to build nuclear weapons hasn’t been there so far, it is reasonable, unfortunately, to expect the world’s complacency to continue until (and after) Iran tests its first bomb. “Bolton: Israel has until Aug. 21 to stop Bushehr,” from the World Tribune, August 16:
Former U.S. envoy to the United Nations, John Bolton, asserted that Israel has until Aug. 21 to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. He said from that point on Bushehr would become an operating nuclear reactor and effectively immune to any air strike.
“Once the rods are in the reactor an attack on the reactor risks spreading radiation in the air, and perhaps into the water of the Persian Gulf,” Bolton said.
In an interview with the U.S. television network Fox, Bolton said his assessment was based on the assumption that neither Israel nor the United States wanted to generate a massive nuclear fallout that could harm Gulf Cooperation Council states. He said the launch of operations at the 1,000 megawatt reactor at Bushehr would block the prospect of any air strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“If they’re going to do it that’s the window that they have,” Bolton said on Aug. 13. “So most people think that neither Israel nor the United States would attack the reactor after it’s been fueled.”
On Aug. 16, Iranian Vice President Ali Salehi said a second uranium enrichment facility would be built in 2011. Salehi said the enrichment facility would be one of 10 nuclear sites.
Bolton has been one of the strongest advocates of an Israeli or U.S. air strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities before Teheran begins weapons production. He had spent much of his career as a State Department arms control analyst who focused on Iran’s nuclear program.
Russia has announced that Bushehr would be loaded with nuclear fuel on Aug. 21. Officials said this would mark the start of operations of the $1 billion facility, deemed civilian.
But Bolton said Bushehr, despite oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency, could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. He said such a process would be rapid.
“In the normal operation of this reactor, in just a fairly short period of time, you could get substantial amounts of plutonium to use as nuclear weapons,” Bolton said.
The United States has long opposed Russia’s completion of Bushehr. But over the last year, the administration of President Barack Obama has quietly allowed Russia’s state-owned Atomstroyexport to build the reactor as part of efforts to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment.
“The U.S. urged them not to send the Iranian’s fuel rods,” Bolton said. “They did that. I think this is a very delicate point, as I say, it closes off to the Israelis one possible target for pre-emptive military action.”