Israel has eight days to hit Bushehr, says Bolton
Air strike would have to preempt arrival of fuel, says former US envoy
Israel has eight days to destroy the Bushehr nuclear power plant, after which the arrival of nuclear fuel from Russia rules out an air strike for fear of spreading radiation, said John Bolton, the former US envoy to the US on Monday.
Bolton seemed to endorse a preemptive airstrike, telling the Fox Business Network that in the absence of military action, "Iran will achieve something that no other opponent of Israel, no other enemy of the United States in the Middle East really has and that is a functioning nuclear reactor."
Iran will bring the reactor online next week once a shipment of uranium from Russia has been loaded into the plants core. At this point, an attack would become prohibitive, said Bolton, as the resulting spread of radiation would endanger the civilian population.
"Once that uranium, once those fuel rods are very close to the reactor, certainly once they're in the reactor, attacking it means a release of radiation, no question about it," he said.
"So if Israel is going to do anything against Bushehr it has to move in the next eight days."
Bolton was skeptical over whether Israel would resort to this measure, however.
"I don't think so, I'm afraid that they've lost this opportunity," he said.
Iran has dismissed the prospect of a military strike against the site. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday that "these threats of attacks had become repetitive and lost their meaning."
"According to international law, installations which have real fuel cannot be attacked because of the humanitarian consequences," he told reporters at a news conference in Tehran.
According to Iranian officials, air defences around Bushehr have been strengthened.