UNITED NATIONS -- The decision to begin the activation of Iran's nuclear power station near the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr marks a milestone.
The project, first started by the shah of Iran in the late 1970s, was originally mothballed by the Islamic government, only to be resurrected in 1996 with assistance from Moscow.
The project, more than four years late, ballooned to a price exceeding $6 billion,
confirm Russian sources. The project had become the largest source of hard
currency income for the Russian company Rosatom.
Russian sources admit that it was the Iranian money that kept Moscow's nuclear power industry alive.
While the Russians were building the controversial power station, satellite photos provided to Newsmax revealed that the Chinese navy was providing assistance in coastal security for the Iranian project.
None of which sat well with the Bush administration and Israel.
While Bushehr, ostensibly a civilian power station, was being built, both the White House and Jerusalem continually vacillated as the whether the project should be completed.
Washington successfully pressured Moscow several times to change the terms and conditions it insisted Iran must meet to complete the nuclear power station.
The ensuing squabble between Tehran and Moscow delayed the project's completion by at least four years, explain Iranian sources.
More importantly, in a measure aimed to minimize its reliance on foreign companies, Iran decided to begin a domestic program to “enrich” uranium.
That program has been at the center of the current nuclear standoff between Washington and Tehran.
Iran insists that the controversial enrichment is related to its civilian power program. The White House says it is really designed to fabricate fuel for a secret atomic bomb.
Coincidentally, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently admitted that it had underestimated the amount of enriched uranium in Iran's possession by a third.
The IAEA, the U.N. atomic watchdog, now admits that Tehran has enough enriched uranium in its possession to build a nuclear bomb, though the material needs additional purification.
When Bushehr's two nuclear reactors become fully operational in 2010, the complex will be among the 20 largest of its type in the world.
The reactors' massive concrete containment domes are so hardened that they could withstand a direct hit by a Boeing 747, say Russian sources.
As such, even U.S. sources admit that any kind of military attack on the complex “is highly unlikely."
It is ironic that the project that so concerns the White House was originally begun with American assistance so the shah could wean his nation from its hazardous dependence on oil -- oil which he could then sell to his most important ally, the United States.
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