The Bushehr reactor was built to produce electricity, no doubt, and the Russians are obliged to share supervision with international bodies to make sure that the Iranians do not use it for military nuclear purposes. This reactor’s objective lies elsewhere. When the reactor is connected to the electricity grid in a few months it will begin to ease the pressure on the Iranian energy sector and reduce the impact of sanctions on the import of refined fuel. Therefore, the reactor itself does not contribute materially to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The problem with it is more subtle than that.
The problem focuses on two other issues: One is the training of Iranian scientists in a way that can advance the military nuclear project, since the experience and expertise they will gain from operating the Iranian power reactor will serve them in the weapons project. Neither the Russians nor the world can hope to monitor this leak of knowledge. What’s more, the Iranians probably do not need more outside assistance. At this point, their accumulated knowledge from other sources such as North Korea and Pakistan is already enough to bring them to the bomb.
The other issue is the encouragement and morale which the ayatollahs derive from the opening of the Bushehr reactor. In their view, the Western-Christian world is crumbling and divided; so mush so, that Russia - which is an integral part of it - helped them on a crucial issue which the U.S., "the Great Satan," has vigorously opposed for many years. This affirms their belief that Iranian wisdom, wit and determination are able to manipulate the U.S., Russia, Europe and China to such a degree that now nothing can stand in their way to a nuclear bomb.
The International system was designed following the Second World War to deny any single state the ability to impose its agenda by force and weapons on the rest of the world. Iran proved yesterday that she could impose its agenda on the world, and the reactor at Bushehr gives the ayatollahs evidence that there is no power on earth which can resist their global intentions.
Today, the cheer that’s being shouted with broad smiles and high-fives in the corridors of power in Iran is actually in English: Yes, we can!
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
Hat tip: Dan from New York. Image: Guardian.co.uk.