Iran Continues Operations at Military Site: Report

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reza Najafi, shown in September at the U.N. atomic agency's headquarters in Vienna. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security on Monday said Iran has continued activities at a military base suspected to have hosted nuclear weapon-related experiments.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
May 13, 2014, 10:40 a.m.

Wash­ing­ton-based ana­lysts say Ir­an has pressed ahead with op­er­a­tions at a mil­it­ary base sus­pec­ted to have hos­ted nuc­le­ar weapon-re­lated ex­per­i­ments.

An April 25 satel­lite im­age of Ir­an’s Parchin in­stall­a­tion sug­gests the na­tion, since Janu­ary, has moved “pos­sible build­ing ma­ter­i­al and debris” near a build­ing that the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency has sought un­suc­cess­fully for more than two years to vis­it, ac­cord­ing to a Monday as­sess­ment by the In­sti­tute for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tion­al Se­cur­ity. The U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog be­lieves the struc­ture may once have been cap­able of host­ing ex­plo­sion tests rel­ev­ant to nuc­le­ar-arms de­vel­op­ment.

“Two trucks or con­tain­ers have been re­moved from the area sur­round­ing the sus­pec­ted high-ex­plos­ives test build­ing, while a lar­ger ob­ject, pos­sibly a truck or large con­tain­er, ap­pears slightly north of it,” IS­IS ana­lysts Dav­id Al­bright and Ser­ena Kelle­her-Ver­gantini said in their re­port.

Ir­an, which in­sists that its atom­ic am­bi­tions are strictly peace­ful, began al­ter­ing the Parchin fa­cil­ity weeks after IAEA of­fi­cials began seek­ing ac­cess to the loc­a­tion, the in­de­pend­ent ex­perts said.

The na­tion last year un­der­took a months-long pause in activ­it­ies at the site, but a Janu­ary im­age ana­lys­is re­vealed an ap­par­ent re­sump­tion of op­er­a­tions there, the ana­lys­is says.

This week’s find­ings came as Ir­an launched a new round of mul­ti­lat­er­al talks aimed at de­fus­ing in­ter­na­tion­al fears over Tehran’s sus­pec­ted nuc­le­ar-arms as­pir­a­tions.

“By con­tinu­ing to modi­fy the site and deny­ing the IAEA ac­cess, Ir­an is re­du­cing the chances of reach­ing a com­pre­hens­ive solu­tion by the ini­tial dead­line of Ju­ly 20,” when an in­ter­im nuc­le­ar agree­ment with ma­jor powers is sched­uled to ex­pire, the IS­IS re­port says.

Cer­tain spe­cial­ists have ques­tioned the U.N. agency’s ra­tionale for press­ing to vis­it the Parchin com­pound. The evid­ence prompt­ing those re­quests — in­tel­li­gence gathered and fur­nished to the agency by IAEA mem­ber gov­ern­ments — re­mains con­fid­en­tial.

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