Foreign Policy's Ali Vaez discusses the politics and problems of Iran's first nuclear power plant.
The ancient city of Bushehr, a steamy port in southwestern Iran, is bustling with foreign workers preparing to launch Iran's first nuclear reactor. The Middle East's only commercial nuclear power plant will soon become operational. Back in Washington, officials worry about Iran's emergence as an atomic power and all the many ways it will upset the region's delicate balance. The year is 1978.
Thirty-three years later, history is repeating itself. Today, it is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei instead of the pro-Western Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and Russian, not German, engineers building the nuclear power plant. But some things are nearly the same: The United States still worries; and the Middle East's only commercial nuclear power plant, we are told once again, is finally, really, at last about to become operational.