The National Security Network has issued another of their short, timely reports. And this one starts out by dispelling some hyperventilation about Iran starting to load nuclear fuel into its power plant at Bushehr, which is operating under IAEA safeguards.
Über-hawk John Bolton took to the op-ed pages of the Washington Times in August to call for a military strike against Iran even before the Bushehr plant went online (see our Talking Points from August 18).
NSN says this kind of overwrought reaction from hawks does not take into account the full-spectrum safeguards on the Bushehr plant which cause the plant to have nothing to do with the wider Iranian nuclear program.
NSN writes (emphasis in original):
Today’s announcement that Iran has begun loading fuel into its nuclear power plant at Bushehr is a sideshow – designed by Iran’s leaders to distract attention from how U.S.-led sanctions are starting to bite. The move does not bring Iran closer to a nuclear weapon capability – the Bushehr plant is under IAEA safeguards and the Russians are providing and taking back the fuel, denying Iran the opportunity to divert the spent fuel for military purposes. It does, however, allow war hawks to ignore the concerns of military and national security experts and ramp up their rhetoric in support of a military strike against Iran. The administration’s comprehensive Iran policy is aimed at the real threat-Iran’s enrichment program-and it has been effective at sharpening Tehran’s choices. The White House has mobilized key states, including Russia and China, and has won strong support for international sanctions, which experts agree, are starting to bite.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions-not the Bushehr reactor-remain the source of concern. Concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions are well-founded, given its refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and failure to declare sensitive enrichment facilities. The Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr, however, does not bring Iran closer to a nuclear weapon capability.