Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolten told Fox News on Friday that Russia will be loading Iran’s Bushehr reactor with nuclear fuel rods on August 21st. This makes the window of opportunity for a military strike on that facility very narrow, for if attacked after the fuel rods are loaded, then radiation could spread in the air and into the Persian Gulf.
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.”
In March of this year, Russian President, Vladmir Putin announced that Russia would be fueling the Bushehr facility this summer. Understandably, this was big news in Israel, but the MSM in America predictably shied away from the story.
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.
But as I said, the Israelis will have to take action before the facility is fueled.
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.
Even though the Iranians claim that Bushehr will be a nuclear energy facility, once it is operational, it will have the ability to produce the materials needed for nuclear weapons.
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.
“And 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 told Fox.
The Obama administration has been trying to use diplomacy and sanctions to keep the Iranians from going nuclear. This means that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s back is against the wall on this one. As John Bolten points out:
Russia, which is operating under a $1 billion contract with Iran, has spent more than a decade building the reactor. If Russia moves forward with its plan to fuel the reactor, it could be seen as a major setback to the Obama administration’s strategy of engaging Russian leaders in order to win their cooperation.
“The U.S. urged them not to send the Iranian’s fuel rods,” Bolton said. “They did that. The Obama administration has urged them not to insert the fuel rods in the reactors, but as they’ve just announced that will begin next week. What that does over time is help Iran get another route to nuclear weapons through the plutonium they could reprocess out of the spent fuel rods.”
The developments mean Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon may face a stark choice: Attack the Bushehr reactor in the next 8 days, or allow it to become operational despite the certainty it would greatly enhance Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons.
This has been going on for the last decade, in fact in the Bush years no harsh steps were taken either in the mistaken idea that Iran should be allowed to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The flaw in this theory is that Iran will not hesitate to use such “peaceful” nuclear energy to produce the materials for atomic weapons.
Bolton said the reactor has been “a hole” in American foreign policy for over a decade.
The failure to demand it be shut down began in the Bush years, he said, and continues with the Obama administration “under what I believe is the mistaken theory that Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
“I don’t think Iran is entitled to that, or I don’t think we ought to allow it to happen, because they’re manifestly violating any number of obligations under the non-proliferation treaty not to seek nuclear weapons. But this has been a hole in American policy for some number of years, and Iran and Russia are obviously exploiting it,” Bolton said.
Russia’s move would put Iran “in a much better position overall,” he said, adding, “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.
U.N. sanctions against Iran, he said, “have not had and will not have any material effect on Iran’s push to have deliverable nuclear weapons.”
In this humble contributor’s opinion, the time for half hearted sanctions and toothless diplomacy are over. The only thing that Iran will respect is strength and unfortunately this administration is not up to the task of showing any strength anytime soon.