In an interview with the U.S. television network Fox, Bolton said his
assessment was based on the assumption that neither Israel nor the United
States wanted to generate a massive nuclear fallout that could harm Gulf
Cooperation Council states. He said the launch of operations at the 1,000
megawatt reactor at Bushehr would block the prospect of any air strike on
Iran's nuclear facilities.
"If they're going to do it that's the window that they have," Bolton
said on Aug. 13. "So most people think that neither Israel nor the United
States would attack the reactor after it's been fueled."
[On Aug. 16, Iranian Vice President Ali Salehi said a second uranium
enrichment facility would be built in 2011. Salehi said the enrichment
facility would be one of 10 nuclear sites.]
Bolton has been one of the strongest advocates of an Israeli or U.S. air
strike on Iran's nuclear facilities before Teheran begins weapons
production. He had spent much of his career as a State Department arms
control analyst who focused on Iran's nuclear program.
Russia has announced that Bushehr would be loaded with nuclear fuel on
Aug. 21. Officials said this would mark the start of operations of the $1
billion facility, deemed civilian.
But Bolton said Bushehr, despite oversight by the International Atomic
Energy Agency, could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. He said such a
process would be rapid.
"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 said.
The United States has long opposed Russia's completion of Bushehr. But
over the last year, the administration of President Barack Obama has quietly
allowed Russia's state-owned Atomstroyexport to build the reactor as part of
efforts to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment.
"The U.S. urged them not to send the Iranian's fuel rods," Bolton said.
"They did that. 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."