Daily Israel Report

Iran Denies Bushehr Activation Will Enable Atomic Weapon

Islamic Republic denies that activation of the Bushehr nuclear reactor will enable it to develop an atomic weapon, countering John Bolton warning.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 8/18/2010, 3:44 PM / Last Update: 8/18/2010, 4:02 PM

Iran is denying a doomsday message to the world by former U.S. diplomat John Bolton, warning that activation of a nuclear reactor in the Islamic Republic will end the chance to prevent Tehran from developing an atomic weapon.

Iranian officials denied Wednesday that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will produce enriched uranium, or an atomic weapon, after it is activated Friday. Still, to protect its nuclear investment, Iran has vowed to close the Straits of Hormuz if necessary.

On Friday, August 21, Russia is scheduled to begin loading nuclear fuel rods into the reactor, also built by Moscow.

Iranian MP Hossein Sobhaninia has claimed the fueling of the plant “cannot be linked to Iran's nuclear enrichment program; Iran is well aware of its responsibilities.” His colleague, Iranian MP Mohammad Karim Shahrzad added a warning, however, according to a report broadcast by the country's English-language Press TV news network: “The time frame for enrichment activity is a domestic matter,” he said. “It is an issue in which the United States is not entitled to interfere."

By Friday, Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has warned it will be too late to attack, because such a move would cause radioactive fallout that could reach as far as the Persian Gulf.

Earlier this week, Bolton said in an interview that he believes Israel may have already “lost the opportunity” to prevent Iran from establishing a functional nuclear reactor.

Iranian Army Brigadier-General Ali Shadermani meanwhile has vowed to close the Straits of Hormuz if it appears that the United States might attack the country. “The country's armed forces... are in the highest state of alert,” he told the Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

Shadermani also threatened to attack American troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. “With the slightest move against Iran, we will paralyze those troops stationed in those bases and won't allow them to make any move,” he warned. 

The third element in the plan would be aimed at the Jewish State, he said: The Iranian army would, “disturb peace and tranquility in Israel, which is known as the closest ally of the United States," reported Hamsayeh.net. Shadermani added pointedly, "The U.S. and Israel well know that we can do it.”

Israel and other Western nations believe that Iran is intent on building a nuclear weapon of mass destruction. Spent nuclear fuel rods contain material that can be used to build a nuclear bomb – and even if other nuclear plants in the country are shut down, Bushehr could conceivably be used to continue such a project in future.

At present, Russia's agreement with Iran stipulates that the Islamic Republic will return its spent fuel rods abroad to Moscow. However, there is no guarantee that Tehran will keep its word.

According to Bolton, once nuclear fuel rods are placed inside the core of the Bushehr reactor, any attack on the facility could harm Iranian civilians as well as others across an extremely wide area – hence the former diplomat's warning that time is nearly up.