Iran: Updates as of August 30, 2010

This article was last updated on May 20, 2022

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Nuclear Reactor
Iran loaded fuel into its Buchehr nuclear reactor and activated it on August 21, 2010. This is Iran’s first power-generating nuclear plant. For the moment however, the operation of the plant will be carried out by Russia as Russia will be both supplying the fuel and handling nuclear waste. Considering it has taken 35 years to complete the Buchehr facility, experts are claiming this is now old technology and will not represent a major contribution to Iran’s electrical grid and will not represent a threat to the development of a nuclear weapon. The uranium in use at Buchehr is well below the levels necessary for a nuclear weapon as weapons grade uranium must be enriched by 90% while the enrichment level at Buchehr is only 3.5%. It will take several months before this reactor starts producing electricity.
Despite the on-going fears of Iran building a bomb, experts pointed out that Russia wants to control its nuclear neighbour. Iran is close geographically and Russia has no need for further instability in the region. While Russia has its own economic interests in working with Iran on the peaceful development of nuclear energy, it is also using its involvement to gain power as a mediator in the ayatollah regime’s nuclear activity on behalf of the United Nations and the world. Iran is touting this as an Iranian achievement but in reality, this reactor is a success for Russia.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
The fate of this 43 year old woman condemned to be stoned for adultery has raised quite a cry of protest in international circles for quite some time now. Recently, a number of French personalities including France’s first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy wrote an open letter to the Iranian government to spare the woman. Iran’s state run media responded by calling the first lady a "prostitute". Apparently, the French have been very outspoken about this affair and very critical of Iran and its handling of the case. President Nicholas Sarkozy was quoted as saying “the Iranian regime exercises control by repression and resorts massively to capital punishment, including in its most medieval form, stoning, with which Mrs. Mohammadi-Ashtiani is threatened.”
For the moment, the Iranian court has postponed the date of the final verdict in this woman’s case. However, even if the sentence by stoning is not carried out, there is still the possibility she will be hanged.
New Armaments
On August 22, 2010, Iran showed off a new domestically built unmanned drone bomber. State media claimed it can carry out attacks up to 1,000 kilometres away carrying a 200 kilogram bomb. On August 25, 2010, Iran test fired a new solid-fuel surface-to-surface missile. Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi claimed a better navigation and control system would allow the missile to hit its targets with greater precision. These 2 announcements were part of a series of other alleged new defence technology developments during the past week.
Will Israel bomb Iran?
Speculation continues to run the gambit from it’s a sure thing to "no way". Washington’s former envoy to the U.N., John Bolton spoke to media a couple of weeks ago suggesting Israel had only days to bomb the Buchehr facility before the August 21 start-up date. Israel has done nothing so far but that has not stopped everyone from wondering what will happen. Iran’s latest displays of military might seem destined to dissuade any offensive operations against the country however the posturing on both sides of the fence certainly give rise to the possibility of a greater conflict in the region if fears on both sides cannot be pacified by diplomatic means.

Click HERE to read more columns by William Belle. 

Wikipedia: Nuclear program of Iran
The BBC: Q&A: Iran nuclear issue
The Jerusalem Post: Our World: Accepting the unacceptable
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