Russia's Loading of Nuke Fuel Into Iran Plant Means Aug. 21 Deadline for Israeli Attack
Friday, 13 Aug 2010 01:41 PM
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By: David A. Patten
"News that Russia will load nuclear fuel rods into an Iranian reactor has touched off a countdown to a point of no return, a deadline by which Israel would have to launch an attack on Iran's Bushehr reactor before it becomes effectively "immune" to any assault, says former Bush administration U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton. Once the fuel rods are loaded, Bolton told Fox News on Friday afternoon, "it makes it essentially immune from attack by Israel. Because 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."
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared in March that Russia would start the Bushehr reactor this summer. But the announcement from a spokesman for Russia's state atomic agency to Reuters Friday sent international diplomats scrambling to head off a crisis. The story immediately became front-page news in Israel, which has laid precise plans to carry out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities while going along with President Obama's plans to use international sanctions and diplomatic persuasion to convince Iran's clerics not to go nuclear. Bolton made it clear that it is widely assumed that any Israeli attack on the Bushehr reactor must take place before the reactor is loaded with fuel rods. "If they're going to do it that's the window that they have," Bolton declared. "Otherwise as I said before, once the rods are in the reactor, if you attack the reactor you're going to open it up and radiation will escape at least into the atmosphere and possibly into the waters of the Persian Gulf. "So most people think that neither Israel nor the United States, come to that, would attack the reactor after it's been fueled." Bolton cited the 1981 Israeli attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor outside Baghdad and the September 2007 Israeli attack on a North Korean reactor being built in Syria. Both of those strikes came before fuel rods were loaded into those reactors. "So if it's going to happen in Bushehr it has to happen before the fuel rods go in," Bolton said.
The conversation that touched off the de facto deadline for Israeli military action was a telephone conversation with wire services involving Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Rosatom, the Russian Energy State Nuclear Corp. Novikov said: "The fuel will be loaded on Aug 21. This is the start of the physical launch” of the reactor. "From that moment the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear-energy installation," Novikov said, adding that the head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, will visit Bushehr Aug. 21 to conduct a ceremony for the event. According to Bolton, once the reactor is operational, it is only a matter of time before it begins producing plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.........."