New satellite images obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) apparently show that two buildings have been dismantled and other clean-up work has been undertaken at an Iranian military site that UN nuclear inspectors want to visit.
DigitalGlobe satellite imagery from May 25 of the Parchin military complex — where Iran is suspected to have conducted high explosive tests pertinent to the development of nuclear weapons — reveal that two small buildings next to a suspected testing chamber have been demolished (Figure 1).
Other images (Figures 2 and 5) display visible tracks made by heavy machinery purportedly used in the demolition process and extensive evidence of “ground-scraping activities” (i.e. earth displacement) in and around the site.
Imagery from April 9 show the two small buildings intact (Figure 3) as well as suspected cleanup activity like streaming water emanating from the purported “explosives testing chamber building” (Figure 4).
The Parchin facility is at the centre of Western suspicions that Iran has been conducting research and experiments that could serve a nuclear weapons development program. Iran insists that Parchin is a “conventional” military site and its nuclear activities are for generating electricity.
The newest images corroborate claims that Iran is “sanitizing” any incriminating evidence before allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into the complex.
Nevertheless Robert Kelley, a former senior IAEA official, told Reuters that if there were any uranium traces at the site the agency’s inspectors were likely to find them despite any cleanup efforts:
“If Iran is washing out the building and equipment outside, and there is actually uranium present, letting the uranium contaminated water run across the parking lot means the IAEA is going to have a 100 per cent chance of finding it.”
The ISIS report notes that in 2004 Iran razed the site that held the Physics Research centre (PHRC) and thereby interfered with IAEA’s ability to investigate allegations that the PHRC was involved in military nuclear activities.
Wednesday’s disclosures follow inconclusive nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad last week.
ISIS calls on the Iran to “immediately allow the IAEA access to Parchin and explain the significance of these apparent cleanup activities.”
Iran remains defiant as its IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told reporters that “this kind of noise and allegations are baseless” and last week the head of the Atomic Energy organisation of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, was quoted by Iranian media as saying that the “reasons and documents have still not been presented by the agency to convince us to give permission for this visit.”
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