Moscow halts Iran cooperation with US, will complete Bushehr reactor
DEBKAfile Special Report
August 30, 2008, 7:32 PM (GMT+02:00)
Bushehr nuclear reactor to be ready to go by end of 2008
The Georgia quarrel has all but derailed US-Russian cooperation on the Iran issue. Moscow is not only pulling out of the diplomatic and sanctions front against Iran’s nuclear program; according to DEBKAfile’s Russian sources, Moscow has decided to finally finish building Iran’s nuclear reactor in the southern town of Bushehr before the end of the year, after holding back for five years at Washington’s insistence.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin said in reference to the impact of the Georgia row on US-Russian cooperation on Iran Thursday, Aug. 28: “If nobody wants to talks with us on these issues and cooperation with Russia is not needed, then for God’s sake, do it yourself.”
Moscow has now committed to completing the reactor within four months. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the functioning plant will enable Iran to operate a heavy water plant and produce plutonium as an alternative to enriched uranium for building a nuclear bomb. Tehran had originally counted on the Syria’s North Korean reactor at al Kibar for plutonium. It was demolished by Israel last September.
Putin’s sharp comment means the West can forget about Russian support for another round of harsh sanctions to punish Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. He made it clear that Western nations will have to resolve the standoff without Russian help if they refuse to cooperate with Moscow on Georgia.
The Russians have lost no time in following through on their threat. This week, they are sending the head of their Nuclear Energy Board, Sergei Kireinko, to Tehran at the head of a large delegation. They will stay for at least ten days to clear away the problems for getting the Bushehr reactor up and running by the end of 2008.