Washington: Israel has "eight days" to
launch a military strike against Iran`s Bushehr nuclear
facility and stop Tehran from acquiring a functioning atomic
plant, a former US envoy to the UN has said.
Iran is to bring online its first nuclear power
reactor, built with Russia`s help, next week, when a shipment
of nuclear fuel will be loaded into the plant`s core.
At that point, former John Bolton warned yesterday, it
will be too late for Israel to launch a military strike
against the facility because any attack would spread radiation
and affect Iranian civilians.
"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," Bolton told Fox Business Network.
"So if Israel is going to do anything against Bushehr
it has to move in the next eight days."
Absent an Israeli strike, Bolton said, "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."
But when asked whether he expected Israel to actually
launch strikes against Iran within the next eight days, Bolton
"I don`t think so, I`m afraid that they`ve lost this
opportunity," he said.
The controversial former envoy to the United Nations
criticized Russia`s role in the development of the plant,
saying "the Russians are, as they often do, playing both sides
against the middle."
"The idea of being able to stick a thumb in America`s
eye always figures prominently in Moscow," he added.
Iran dismissed the possibilities of such an attack
from its archfoes.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said
today 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
Iranian officials say Iran has stepped up defensive
measures at the Bushehr
plant to protect it from any attacks.
Russia has been building the Bushehr plant since the
mid-1990s but the project was marred by delays, and the issue
is hugely sensitive amid Tehran`s standoff with the West and
Israel over its nuclear ambitions.
The UN Security Council hit Tehran with a fourth set
of sanctions on June 9 over its nuclear programme, and the
United States and European Union followed up with tougher
punitive measures targeting Iran`s banking and energy sectors.