Israel has until the weekend to launch a military strike on Iran’s first nuclear plant before the humanitarian risk of an attack becomes too great, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Tuesday.
A Russian company is expected to help Iran start loading nuclear fuel into its plant starting on Saturday, after which an attack on the Bushehr reactor could trigger harmful radiation, which Israel wants to avoid, Bolton said. So unless the Israelis act immediately to shut down the facility, it will be too late.
“Once it’s close to the reactor … the risk is when the reactor is attacked, there will be a release of radiation into the air,” Bolton told FoxNews.com. “It’s most unlikely that they would act militarily after fuel rods are loaded.”
The attack Iran story gets increasingly bizarre. Now we have neocon commentators like Bolton watching the clock as though this was some kind of sporting event and at the same time, presenting Israel as a thoroughly responsible player. While Israel might be willing to destabilize the whole region, it wouldn’t want to risk spreading nuclear fallout into the Gulf. But as Marsha Cohen points out, the risks from fallout would not simply be humanitarian — they would be economic:
Besides the catastrophic human and environmental toll of such an attack, the sea lanes through which much of the world’s oil supplies pass would be endangered.
Iranians know this. In 1980, Iran bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear power plant before it contained any radioactive material. Osirak was quickly repaired by the French contractors who built it. Eight months later Osirak was partially destroyed by Israeli jets, aided by Iranian intelligence.
Meanwhile, at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg and Robin Wright are now placing bets on the likelihood of an attack — not in the next few days, but the coming months.
“By July next year, I’ll wager that neither Israel nor the United States will have bombed Iran,” says Wright.
“I, of course, believe that there is a better than 50 percent chance Israel will strike …Iran by this time next year,” says Goldberg.
Note the phrasing chosen by the man who just a few days ago expressed “profound, paralyzing ambivalence” about whether on attack on Iran would be a good idea. He doesn’t now simply reiterate his expectation that an attack is more likely but that it looks like a “better” than 50 percent chance.
Casually chosen words? Maybe, but if Goldberg was being asked how likely another 9/11 attack might be and he thought it more likely than not to happen, I doubt that he would say there is a better than 50 percent chance of such an attack, would he?