DEBKAfile reports: Russians employed at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor suddenly depart in a body, according to local Arab sources October 1, 2007, 11:01 AM (GMT+02:00)
The Khorramshar News Agency, which is published by the ethnic Arab underground of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan, reported early Oct. 1 that the entire staff of Russian nuclear engineers and experts employed in building the nuclear reactor at Bushehr had abruptly packed their bags Friday, Sept. 28, and flew back to Russia.
The agency’s one-liner offers no source or explanation. DEBKAfile have obtained no corroboration of its report from any other source. The story appears to have originated with the ethnic Arabs who live near the reactor or who come in contact with its Russian staff.
If true, DEBKAfile can offer three hypothetical scenarios to account for the Russians’ precipitate departure:
1. Another crisis has cropped up in the patchy Russian-Iranian dealings over the Bushehr reactor. This is unlikely because Russian president Vladimar Putin is due for a high-profile visit to Tehran on Oct. 16, when he plans to sign a series of nuclear accords with the Islamic Republic.
Furthermore, Moscow, like Beijing, stands foursquare behind Iran’s efforts to delay harsher sanctions for its continued uranium enrichment. Only this week, the two powers gained Iran two to three months’ grace by forcing a delay in the UN Security Council session that was to have approved a third round of sanctions.
2. Moscow or Tehran has been tipped off that a US or Israeli attack is imminent on the Bushehr plant and Iran’s other nuclear installations and acted to whip Russian personnel out of harm’s way.
3. Moscow has learned that an Iranian pre-emptive attack is imminent against American targets in Iraq and the Persian Gulf and/or Israel. Aside from these hypothetical scenarios, DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that the Khorramshar News Agency keeps its ear to the ground on happenings in Bushehr, because it is claimed by Khuzistan separatists as Arab land which they will fight to liberate from Iranian “occupation.” SOURCE:DEBKAfile