TEHRAN, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Iran's civilian nuclear program continues to unsettle the country's diplomatic relations.
International concern has intensified over reports that the country's first civilian nuclear power plant at Bushehr will be loaded with Russian fuel by Aug. 21.
The date has increased foreign media speculation that the facility may be the subject of a military attack, most likely by Israel, in an effort to prevent the installation from going critical prior to feeding electricity into the country's national grid.
Iranian officials have been warning against the effects of any such military action, Jam-e Jam reported Thursday. During a news conference Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast commented, "At present, when the fuel is located close to the power plant, any attack against the power plant can be followed by extreme reactions. Real fuel for the Bushehr nuclear facility will be loaded next week and all the necessary fuel will be installed in the heart of the Bushehr reactor within three to four weeks."
News that the facility will receive nuclear fuel has galvanized American Republican conservative opinion, most notably former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton.
From August 2005 to December 2006 Bolton served as the interim U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on a recess appointment but subsequently resigned when his recess appointment ended because despite Republican influence in Congress, his strongly neo-conservative views precluded his gaining full Senate confirmation.
Bolton, a commentator on the Fox News network, stated Aug. 13, "Israel must carry out a military attack against this power plant on 21 August, meaning the day that it will be launched. Israel has only one week left to target the Bushehr nuclear facilities and this has to be done before time goes by or it is too late and any attack becomes more difficult." His strident remarks have elicited worldwide comment and concern as indicating that a possible Israeli attack, possibly in conjunction with U.S. forces, may be imminent.
Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi commented that in the event of a military strike against Bushehr, "In such a case, Iran may only lose a power plant, but the Zionist regime will endanger its whole political existence. These beloved ones (the armed forces) will impose such a defeat on the Zionist regime that it is unlikely that it would want to consider a direct confrontation with Iran."