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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Iran nuclear plant test run scares Israel

Thu 26 Feb 2009 19:24:56 GMT | PressTV

Iran started tests at its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr on Wednesday.
The Israeli premier Ehud Olmert sends out a warning signal to Iran after the country began a test run of its first nuclear power plant.

"We are a strong country, a very strong country, and we have at our disposal (military) capacities the intensity of which are difficult to imagine," Olmert told public radio on Thursday.

"We have deployed enormous efforts to reinforce our deterrence capacity," Olmert added. "Israel will be able to defend itself in all situations, against all threats, against all enemies. I cannot say more but believe me, I know what I'm talking about."

The remarks came after Iran announced Wednesday that despite intense international pressure over the country's nuclear program it has launched the test-stage of its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr.

The United States and Israel and their allies accuse Iran of having a covert nuclear weapons program. Iran contends that it only seeks to produce nuclear energy and its program is civilian in nature.

Israel -- which is the sole possessor of a nuclear warhead in the Middle East -- considers Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat to its security and has repeatedly threatened to militarily take out Iranian nuclear infrastructure.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawk set to form the next Israeli government, said earlier that Iran is the top challenge facing Israel.

"Iran is seeking to arm itself with nuclear weapons and is the most serious threat to our existence since the war of independence" in 1948, Netanyahu said.

A senior adviser to the Israeli hawk, Dore Gold, told Reuters on Wednesday that Netanyahu would make Iran's nuclear program his "highest priority."

The remarks give rise to widespread speculation about the possibility of an Israeli military action against Iran.

While Israel continues to label Iran's nuclear program as a threat, the UN nuclear watchdog confirms that Iran has only managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level "less than 5 percent."

Uranium, the fuel for a nuclear power plant, can serve in military purposes if enriched to high levels. Nuclear arms production requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

Earlier on Wednesday -- the first day of the Bushehr plant's test run -- head of the Rosatom State Atomic Corporation Sergei Kiriyenko addressed Western concerns about Iran's recent nuclear achievement.

"We believe that the structure in the Bushehr plant itself is in total conformity with the Non-Proliferation," the Russian official said.

He added that Russia's cooperation in building the Bushehr plant removes every doubt about Iran's nuclear intentions, as the whole project is transparent in its entirety.

"Those who think this project can be used for the proliferation of nuclear weapons can come here and see for themselves."

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