`Israel's Existence Is in Danger' If It Attacks Nuclear Plant, Iran Says

Iran will respond if Israel attacks its first nuclear power plant, which will begin loading fuel Aug. 21, according to the Persian Gulf country’s defense minister.

“In that case we will lose a power plant, but Israel’s existence will be in danger,” Ahmad Vahidi was cited as saying today by the state-run Mehr news agency, in response to questions about the possibility of an attack by Israel on the Russian-built atomic facility at Bushehr.

The Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said today he “doubts” that Israel would “make such a dangerous move.” In comments on state television, he said, “Any aggression against this power plant will result in a serious reaction.”

Israeli leaders have said that all options are on the table in dealing with Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Iran is under four sets of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and many of its allies say is aimed at creating a weapon. Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Middle East, denies the allegation, saying it needs nuclear energy for civilian purposes, such as generating electricity.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declined to comment when asked about the Iranian defense minister’s remarks.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday announced the enactment of a law that obliges Iran to produce nuclear fuel for its Tehran medical-research reactor, on the day the country said it will build its third uranium-enrichment plant as part of a program to add 10 such facilities. Iran’s first uranium- enrichment plant is at Natanz and a second plant is under construction at Qom.

Iran has defied UN demands to cease production of enriched uranium, which can fuel a reactor or, at higher concentrations, form the core of a bomb.

The Bushehr power station will begin producing electricity in several months, Sergei Novikov, spokesman for Rosatom Corp., the Russian state nuclear holding company that built the plant, said Aug. 13.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ali Sheikholeslami in London at alis2@bloomberg.net.

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