by Ami Dor-on
Any form of abnormal activity taking place at the Bushehr reactor in Iran, whether seismic in nature or caused by a military attack, could result in its collapse. If such a collapse would occur it would be similar in nature to the collapse and damages caused to the Japanese reactor in Fukushima.
If such a catastrophe were to take place at Bushehr the damage from radioactive fallout could possibly affect the nearby Persian Gulf states like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE all of whom are rich in oil and gas resources. The spread of radiation might even result in the impairment of shipping activities in the Persian Gulf whose routes are critical to the export of oil throughout the world. The interruption of oil shipments would certainly result in sharp price increases in oil followed by certain dire effects on the economies of many countries.
Anyone familiar with the history of Iran’s nuclear industry must know that the Bushehr site although considered by many authorities as less “problematic” and alarming in nature, is realistically considered a most dangerous site in geographical terms by Iran, its Persian Gulf neighbors, and to the Western world. The reactor site was chosen to enable it to produce electricity in Bushehr on the shores of the Persian Gulf.
There are known technological defects which exist in the Bushehr reactor posing additional threats and risks in the event of an “extraordinary event” – be it militarily or a natural event like an earthquake. The same defects constitute a strategic advantage from an Israeli perspective. Of all the reactor targets in Iran the Bushehr reactor presents and easier target for Israel. The resulting radioactive damage inflicted on Bushehr might even be more significant than that of an Israeli military attack against Iranian nuclear sites which were designed to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons.
The reasoning and advantages behind such an action are easy to explain. If an Israeli strike force arriving by air or by sea – were to damage Iran’s Bushehr reactor and cause severe ecological damage, it would alert the whole world to the absurdity of the Ahmadinejad’s governments’ daily threats to destroy Israel.
Strategists have argued that Israel would not have to mount a large scale attack in order to inflict significant damage to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. A “Dolphin”submarine like that in the service of the Israeli navy, might secretly emerge near the shores of Bushehr. Members of elite special units would take action to undermine the cooling system of the reactor.
Severe damage to the reactor would cause the fission of its systems resulting in massive power outages throughout Iran, electronic infrastructure damage and even loss of ability of the government to control the country. As was the case in Chernobyl, Iran would likely have to evacuate a million residents of Bushehr and deal with the closure of such a facility for decades to come.
Development of Iran’s nuclear program began in the 60’s of the 20th century. During the reign of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Fhlawi, Iran received aid from America, France and Germany enabling it to build and operate civilian nuclear programs for “peaceful purposes,” like the production of electricity.
The first stages of construction of the Bushehr reactor were led by the German company “Siemens”. The reactor cooling system was designed to use seawater for cooling, and for that purpose it was built a few hundred meters from the beach on the east coast of the Persian Gulf near Bushehr. In 1979, following the exile of the Shah, the country’s leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, advocated a religious principle that the development of nuclear weapons was incompatible with the religion of Islam. The program was consequently suspended.
Following the death of Khomeini and the stabilization of the fanatic government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia entered the picture as advisors on the country’s nuclear program. Engineers and technicians of the Russian national atomic agency worked towards the completion of the “German” reactor and turning it into a “Russian” reactor. The reactor was successfully connected to Iran’s electricity grid. Production capacity of the reactor now accounts for approximately 15% of Iran’s national electricity consumption.
To the dismay of the Iranians, the Bushehr reactor has suffered serious technical problems reminiscent of those which exist in Russian power producing nuclear reactors. The most famous of them was the Russian Chernobyl reactor that collapsed. Although the problems are mostly simple they still involve serious dangers.
Mistakes were made in the engineering designs of the system and workmanship was found defective. For example, in October of last year, after years of delays and six months after the initial operation of the Bushehr power reactor, operations were stopped after serious problems were identified in the cooling system. It was determined that a number of screws to be placed under the nuclear fuel cells were “forgotten” during construction.
Another serious fact is that there was no emphasis placed on the aspects of technological and planning in the first stage of the Bushehr site. It turns out that it was built right on an active geological Rift that is found in the Persian Gulf. The inherent danger of the location involves the possible event of abnormal seismic activity like an earthquake. In such a scenario the reactor might collapse, repeating events like those following the Fukushima reactor in Japan, or perhaps even worse the repetition of the catastrophe that took place in Chernobyl.
Should a disaster of such magnitude occur in Bushehr, radioactive fallout will not only affect Iran, but the rich oil and gas producing Gulf countries like: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well. Radioactive radiation in the air and water supply could severely harm any shipping vessel sailing in regular sea lanes of the Persian Gulf. These oil routes are extremely important as their closure might result in sharp price hikes in the cost of oil directly affecting the worlds’ economy.
Since such possibilities exist, I wonder why the Western world continues to deal with the media and political obsession concerning a possible Israeli attack. Perhaps it is a result of the successful Israeli attack and destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor – “Osirak”, in an air raid conducted in 1981. That famous raid was dubbed “Operation Tammuz” by the Israelis.
It is quite possible that the fear of “nuclear chaos” threatening the consciousness of the world is a fear which is being fueled by active and effective rhetoric by the state of Israel within the international media. Perhaps that rhetoric is nothing more than an exercise designed to distract public opinion from the main point.
Anyone who claims to know “how the Jewish mind works” might come to the conclusion that it is not necessary to repeat successful and historical methods or events. Sometimes it is better to choose new military offensive options ones that the enemy might not have considered.