Bolton was Contradicted by Bush on Iran's Bushehr Reactor

Former US ambassador and perennial angry old crank John
Bolton is so upset about the possibility that Iran's Bushehr nuclear
reactor will soon go live that he says Israel has a window of only 8
days to attack it
and destroy it. (After a reactor is already
working, bombing it would turn it into a dirty bomb and harm large
numbers of civilians, which even Bolton isn't yet in favor of).

But Bolton's former boss, George W. Bush, endorsed the Russian reactor deal with Iran in 2007:

Bush noted Russia's announcement that it would ship
nuclear fuel to Iran's first atomic power station, the unfinished
Bushehr plant, and said such deliveries further reduced Tehran's need to
enrich uranium.

"If that's the case, if the Russians are willing to do that - which I
support - then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich. If the
Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then
there's no need for them to learn how to enrich," he said.

Bush supported the deal because many safeguards had been built in to
prevent the reactors being used to create weapons. And because those
safeguards were entirely practical, undermining the Iranian arguments
for their need to enrich uranium themselves to fuel such reactors.

Moreover, the reactor is being actively inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which continues to certify that no nuclear fuel is being diverted by Iran to weapons purposes.

And the Russians, who have been working on this reactor since the
mid-1990s, have put in safeguards to prevent it from being used to
produce a nuclear weapon. First, they have insisted on a light water reactor.

One of the ways to create a nuclear warhead is to take the spent fuel
from a nuclear reactor and reprocess it into plutonium of weapons
quality. But it is much harder to do this with light water reactors
than with heavy water ones, as Daniel Engber of Slate explains:

Light-water reactors are designed for commercial use and
can run for years at a time on a single batch of fuel. ("Light water"
refers to ordinary H2O; "heavy water" has a higher percentage of
deuterium atoms, i.e. hydrogen atoms with an extra neutron.) That long
burn fills out the plutonium by-product with other isotopes that make it
less useful for nuclear weapons. If you shut down a light-water reactor
early-after a few months, for example-you'd waste a huge amount of
money. . . Furthermore, it would be very easy to tell when the Iranians
or North Koreans shut down their light-water reactors. To extract the
fuel rods, you have to lift off a giant lid at the top of the reactor
and take them out all at once. Weapons inspectors love this feature
because it requires a large-scale operation that's almost impossible to

So the reactor is being regularly inspected by the UN, and is a light
water reactor which is very difficult if not impossible to use for the
production of weapons grade plutonium. But there is more. Russia is
providing the nuclear fuel for these reactors and then taking back the
spent fuel, so that Iran will not even have the ruined
light-water-reactor-produced plutonium, which even if they did have it
could not be used to make a bomb.

People going ballistic over the Bushehr reactor are perhaps
remembering the 1981 Israeli attack on the French-made OSIRAK reactor in
Baghdad. But that was a piece of counter-productive theater anyway.
The French had insisted on constructing a light water reactor, and on
putting in safeguards against its being used for weapons construction.
The Israeli attack therefore did not forestall a weapons program; the
reactor would have been almost impossible to use for that purpose.
After the Israeli attack, though, Saddam Hussein launched a crash
program to enrich uranium through magnetatrons, an effort that appears
to have failed or to have been a very long-term proposition. It was the
Israeli strike that convinced the Baath regime to carry out a crash
program of nuclear weapons advances that only Baghdad's defeat in the
Gulf War revealed. The Israelis would have been better off leaving the
innocuous OSIRAK alone; as it was they provoked an Iraqi crash nuclear
weapons program that might have ultimately borne fruit had it not been
for Saddam's rash and brutal invasion of Kuwait.

So, there is no point in attacking Bushehr and the attack on OSIRAK
backfired big time. Bolton and others on the American Right are playing
on people's ignorance in this warmongering.

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© 2023 Juan Cole