The bus rumbled along a highway in southwest Iran, passing a series of anti-aircraft batteries and rickety guard towers before pulling in through a checkpoint to the Bushehr nuclear plant compound. Having anticipated significant difficulties finding, much less nearing, the reactor, I stared in stunned silence at its dome. So much for state secrets. It glistened like a mosque.
I sat in the women’s section at the back, mentally drafting the travel brochure: “Welcome to Bushehr! Take our budget bus tour of the facility that has everyone talking!” One could imagine the collective synaptic energy emanating from Washington, London, Paris, and Bonn, striking the gleaming white dome like flint sparks. Yet to my fellow travellers—locals being taken to their homes surrounding the plant, weary labourers half asleep in the men’s section, women in the brightly coloured layers traditional in the Persian Gulf—it was just an average day in a quiet Iranian fishing village where nothing much happens. They didn’t even look out the window.
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