Iran confirmed on Monday that it had received the first fuel shipment for its nuclear power plant at Bushehr [from Russia], but also indicated for the first time that it was building a second nuclear power plant.
The revelation came in comments by Iran’s Atomic Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, made to state-run television and reported by the semi-official Fars news agency. He was dismissing speculation that the arrival of the fuel would allow Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, in Natanz.
“We are building a 360-megawatt indigenous power plant in Darkhovein,” he said, referring to a southern city north of Bushehr.
Blog often enough and you’ll eventually find yourself re-writing old posts. Here’s the post I would have written today if I hadn’t written it already. In a nutshell, there are two ways to make a bomb: enriching uranium to bomb-grade levels of purity, which is what they’re doing with those centrifuges at Natanz, or taking the spent fuel from a nuclear reactor and reprocessing it into plutonium, which is what they could conceivably do at Bushehr with what they’re getting from Russia. (The Hiroshima bomb was a uranium model, the Nagasaki bomb was of the plutonium variety.) Supposedly they haven’t figured out yet how to highly enrich uranium, which makes Bushehr their only option for the moment. What’s to stop them from reprocessing the Russian fuel and turning it into a Nagasaki bomb? Three things: (1) IAEA inspections, as overseen by an Iranian stooge who’s already publicly declared it his mission to do and say whatever he has to in order to avoid war; (2) Russia’s insistence that Iran return any and all spent fuel to Russia, an assurance that depends upon our old friend Vladimir Putin’s good word; and (3) the lack of a reprocessing facility, which Iran may or may not have stashed away somewhere inside its spacious borders. How lucky do you feel?
The president thinks it’s a super idea, although only because it gives him a little extra leverage with sanctions. If they’re getting all the fuel they need from Russia then technically they shouldn’t have to enrich any uranium at Natanz to fuel-worthy (i.e. low) levels. Hence the admission of the second reactor: Sure, sure, Russia can power Bushehr — but what are they going to do about Darkhovein? Answer: How about some more Russian fuel?