There is a claim that the Russians have delivered the fuel for Iran's Bushehr reactor.
The source is DEBKA, which is interesting in and of itself.
The story is quite detailed, both in timeline and claims of political motivation (Putin pissed off at Bush, natch), but DEBKA is not entirely reliable on these matters - they tend to err on the paranoid "airplane novel" side of things.
But, their stories also appear to be politically purposed, either as deliberately leaked intelligence to trigger action in the US conservative masses, or to send a signal to see what a response to a possibly fake story is.
The story refers to WER-440 and WER-1000 "fuel" as having been delivered.
The VVER-440 and VVER-1000 are reactor pressure vessels, not fuel. They also contain different diameter fuel rods, as I understand it (they are- I checked).
The Bushehr reactor is of the VVER-1000 type, I believe.
The deal Iran had with Russia called for construcion of two VVER-440 reactors in addition to Bushehr-1, but I have not seen any reports these have been constructed.There are more than one domes at Bushehr, at least one of which was badly damaged by Iraq in the 80s, but plenty of time to fix it I suppose. All talk of a second reactor was for a second GWe reactor of VVER-1000 or its successor type (VVER-1200), after the first main reactor is done.
If the Iranians have two ready-to-fuel units, one VVER-1000 and one VVER-440 then things get even more interesting and their options for playing with fuel rods and inseting their own low enriched uranium into the stream to mess up the accounting become interesting.
Either way, this is not good. A false claim of intelligence can be just as much a casus belli as a real one in these times.
Bushehr construction has been complete for some months now, and they've just been waiting for fuel, either home made, or the long promised Russian fuel.
I still think a fast burn in the Bushehr reaction of reactor grade fuel, followed by Pu-239 extraction from some or all of the fuel rods is the fast and obvious way for Iran to get a bomb or few.
It would make for an open break with the IAEA and be very provocative, but at this point the Iranians may figure they have nothing to lose.
Israel would view the possibility as very, very serious, and be tempted to try something; the Cheney faction in the US might follow suit.
A fast burn optimised for producing bomb grade plutonium would be 4-6 months, rather than several years.
Obvious time frame is Sep/Oct - with General Pace out as Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, and carrier rotation in the Persian Gulf scheduled. - Interestingly I had Gen Pace resigning as one of the "imminent signs of the apocalypse"... silly me.
PS: Curious Haaretz news story on joint US-Isreali Air Force exercises - also the buzz in the right wing and libertarian fringe press about Iran and nukes is inching up again.
"dozens of aircraft" - sounds like a fighter wing. Big question is, which one, with what aircraft.
If it is F-15 Strike Eagles or F-22s training with F-15I and F-16I then it is curious. Also be curious to know if there is an awacs or jstar plane with them.
What is weird is that I can't find a *.mil story on this
PPS: hmmm, the US planes are F-16s, apparently.
Couple of other exercises underway out west, and some bases have deployment/readiness exercises, also security alerts or gate closures at several bases.
Probably nothing, again, just keeping warm.
I would think one would see significant troop movements in Iraq first, especially the British forces, to protect against Shiite retaliation.
yeah, brits would have to change posture, planes and subs would have to move around;
unless the admin is silly enough to think their new "instant strike by air only" scheme would work - that a missile and long range bomber blitz from continental USA can keep it going for 1-3 days and then they reposition to meet the response.
this could get very silly.
Curious column in the Grauniad today on Iran and british troops and Brown's dilemma as he takes over