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John Daly

John Daly

Dr. John C.K. Daly is the chief analyst for Oilprice.com, Dr. Daly received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the School of Slavonic and East European…

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Iranian Bushehr Nuclear Plant Comes Online - World Survives

On 12 September Iran brought its first nuclear power plant in Bushehr online, connecting it to the country's electrical grid. Iranian officials at the opening ceremony said that the 1,000 megawatt plant has begun generating electricity at 40 percent of its capacity and will reach full capacity by the year’s end following further testing.

Quite aside from demonstrating Iran’s touching post-Fukushima faith in nuclear energy despite being a seismically active country, Bushehr represents a Rorschach test of sorts for all the fears and anxieties in the Middle East, in which everyone looking at the facility has his preconceptions reaffirmed.

“Axis of Evil” charter member Iran insists that Bushehr represents the government’s determination to husband is vast oil reserves by promoting other energy sources, as its economy has hammered by more than three decades of U.S.-led sanctions.

Iran has been subjected to increasingly militant rhetoric from both Tel Aviv and Washington over its civilian nuclear energy program, with thinly veiled threats of possible military action if Tehran does not abandon its efforts, even though they are completely complaint under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Iran has signed and which Tehran pointedly underlines, it’s nemesis and harshest critic Israel has not.

Russia signed a $1 billion contract in 1995 for building the Bushehr plant and last month the country’s Rosatom supplied the power station’s uranium fuel. The United States urged Russia to delay the startup until Iran proves that it's not developing nuclear weapons, to no avail, as Moscow replied that that the Bushehr project has been closely supervised by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Russian officials said that Iran had signed a pledge to ship all the spent uranium fuel from Bushehr back to Russia for reprocessing, excluding the possibility that any of it could used to make nuclear weapons.

Russia has insisted that the Bushehr project is essential for persuading Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and fulfill its obligations under international nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

Many aspects of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities trouble the international community, so much so that in June the U.N. Security Council slapped a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. The sanctions followed Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can be used for the production of fuel for power plants when uranium is enriched to a level of 3-4 percent purity, as well as material for nuclear warheads if enriched to more 90 percent purity. Equally worrying is the fact that Iran received its centrifuge designs from Pakistan, the world’s first Muslim nuclear state, which developed its own nuclear weapons in response to India’s weapon program.

Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is purely peaceful, aimed at producing nuclear energy, but the United States and Israel in particular believe that Tehran's real goal is to produce atomic weaponry.

And Israel has more reason than most to be concerned, as it developed its own nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s at its Dimona reactor by hoodwinking the IAEA, a fact finally proven in 1986 by Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked details of the program to Britain’s Sunday Times and was subsequently kidnapped back to Israel, tried on charges of treason and espionage and subsequently served an 18-year prison sentence. If any nation has a concept of how to covertly develop nuclear weaponry, it is Israel.

So, Bushehr finally comes down to seeing what you want to see there.

That said, international law is not, despite the efforts of the Bush 2 administration, the issue of a nation’s unilaterally “cherry picking” through intelligence for material supporting national agendas stands in stark contrast to building an international consensus for general behavior through the rule of law. Unilaterally ascribing the worst possible motives to a nation rather than letting international law resolve issues will eventually leave the globe in the jungle, with survival of the strongest.

Any Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, unlike its attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 or its 2007 strike on reported Syrian nuclear facilities, will become an international incident, as at Buhshehr alone, according to Russian Federation Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko, “around 1,500 (Russian) people” now work at Bushsehr and “several hundred people – depending on our agreement with Iran – will be engaged in operating the plant.”


The world has uneasily lived with Pakistan’s nuclear “Muslim bomb” for 13 years. Whatever the reality of Iran’s nuclear program, if it does indeed mask a weapons component, why would Iran feel tempted to use it to strike Israel, as it would inevitably provoke massive retaliation from Israel’s nuclear arsenal, estimated at several hundred atomic weapons, deployed by a triad of aircraft, missiles and submarines.

To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, who famously observed, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” perhaps sometimes a nuclear power plant is just… a nuclear power plant.

By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com

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  • Anonymous on September 14 2011 said:
    And many times Nuclear Plants expose hypocrisy in high places!In 2005, Israel's Nuclear Whistle-blower, Mordechai Vanunu told me that President "Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection.“When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.“Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.” -"BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010" by Eileen Fleming
  • Anonymous on September 15 2011 said:
    Well Eileen, you've told us something about the future. Atomic bombs + Netanyahu is not a good combination. Almost makes me feel that my teaching a great course in game theory is something to suggest to the ignoramuses who make the decisions at my university, except I am afraid that no theory of any kind can deal with what might take place in the Middle East some day.
  • Anonymous on September 15 2011 said:
    Why should we be hostage to US/Zionist paranoias? If Iran wants to threaten Israel all she has to do is to get Hezbollah to shoot missiles at Israel's National Water Carrier that starts at Lake Kinneret in the Gallilee. No more water, no more Israel. As it is, the Kinneret is drying out through overuse... The nuclear issue is a red herring to disguise the fact that Iran has displaced Israel as the most powerful state in the ME. The Zionists don't like their fantrasies spoiiled by reality,such as 'Zionism in Israel is dead' so they invent an Iranian nuclear threat to disguise their own inherent weakness. Israel is now surrounded by Islamist states, allbinfluenced by Iran. In this situation Iran doesn't need nuclear weapons-she wants Palestine alive and thriving for the Arabs/Moslems,post-Zionism, not to become a nuclear ewasteland.
  • Anonymous on September 15 2011 said:
    Ms. Fleming adds historical perspective.Israel's attack on the USS Liberty occurred, and was covered up, during LBJ's administration. I know of at least one Oak Ridge nuclear physicist who made business trips to Israel. People talk about the role of oil in driving American strategy; but as someone put it, if you want to keep oil resources safe, you don't have shooting wars on top of pipelines. A key problem is the susceptibility of the US government to special interest leverage. During 2011, more than 20% of Congress and a large number of American university leaders went on junkets to Israel. Many took their spouses. Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) worked against South African Apartheid, and this might be the best way to make a start in Palestine/Israel.Whatever wrongs anyone has ever committed, the future generations of Jewish and non-Jewish people who will share Palestine/Israel do not deserve to live like this.
  • Anonymous on September 15 2011 said:
    Most excellent comments CM Clark!There are three distinct elements energizing Christian Zionists:1. A strong commitment to conservative and ultra-nationalist American politics 2. Dispensationalism: escapist theology that wants nuclear war as they 'think' they will be Raptured and everyone else will burn in hell for eternity.3. A widespread understanding among many Christians that atonement and repentance is needed for 1700 years of murder, rape, and oppression of Jews that was frequently generated by the Church.Many Christian Zionists genuinely feel terrible about what has happened to the Jews but are blind to the misery of Palestinians and their culpability in a brutal military occupation.But good news could come 20 September at the showdown at the UN:Come September: The UN, Palestine, Israel, Vanunu, etc @http://wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2161&Itemid=249
  • Anonymous on September 15 2011 said:
    Dear Philip,Virginia Tilley, Professor of political science wrote:"In his October 2005 speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad never used the word 'map' or the term 'wiped off'. What he actually said was 'this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.' "In this speech to an annual anti-Zionist conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s (a period when Israel was actually selling arms to Iran, so apparently it was not viewed as so ghastly then). Mr. Ahmadinejad had just reminded his audience that the Shah's regime, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein had all seemed enormously powerful and immovable, yet the first two had vanished almost beyond recall and the third now languished in prison. So, too, the 'occupying regime' in Jerusalem would someday be gone. His message was, in essence, 'This too shall pass.'"
  • Anonymous on September 15 2011 said:
    I am American but I am neither Christian nor Zionist.I can tell you wholeheartedly that I could care less what Iran does to Israel: or vice versa.The end result is that there is going to be another world war. It cannot be stopped. No religion or group has the sense to realize that our time here is almost up. Everyone will cling to their religions and philosophies to feel good about letting themselves and their families die in agony. No one has evolved and nothing has changed.

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