Iran Seen Resuming Work at Suspect Military Base

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, left, speaks during a press conference with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano. Iran appears to have resumed activities at a military base where the U.N. agency believes nuclear-related experiments may have been performed, according to a Washington think tank.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
Feb. 26, 2014, 9:28 a.m.

Ir­an has re­sumed activ­it­ies at an in­stall­a­tion be­lieved by some spe­cial­ists to have housed nuc­le­ar-arms stud­ies, says a Wash­ing­ton ana­lyt­ic­al group.

A Jan. 30 satel­lite pho­to­graph shows new move­ments at Ir­an’s Parchin base fol­low­ing an ap­par­ent lull in large-scale op­er­a­tions at the site, ac­cord­ing to a Tues­day as­sess­ment by the In­sti­tute for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tion­al Se­cur­ity. The fa­cil­ity re­mains off-lim­its to In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency in­spect­ors who sus­pect it may have once hos­ted a struc­ture cap­able of ac­com­mod­at­ing atom­ic-rel­ev­ant det­on­a­tion ex­per­i­ments, as well as po­ten­tial work on a “neut­ron ini­ti­at­or” to trig­ger nuc­le­ar blasts.

The think tank said that debris and pos­sible con­struc­tion sup­plies have ap­peared close to the sus­pec­ted det­on­a­tion cham­ber’s former hous­ing, as well as near an edi­fice on the north­ern edge of the Parchin com­plex.

The find­ing came less than a week after IAEA Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Yukiya Amano cited the ap­pear­ance of ap­par­ent con­struc­tion ma­ter­i­als and debris at Parchin since Novem­ber.

IS­IS ana­lysts said the al­ter­a­tions they found “are ap­par­ently the ones noted by the IAEA in the [Feb. 20] Ir­an safe­guards re­port and lis­ted among the is­sues that con­tin­ue to cre­ate con­cerns about the hid­ing of pos­sible mil­it­ary di­men­sions to Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram.”

The U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog can­not ac­cess Parchin un­der a weeks-old agree­ment ad­dress­ing oth­er ele­ments in an in­vest­ig­a­tion of the Middle East­ern na­tion’s nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies. The in­ter­na­tion­al probe is in­ten­ded to help cla­ri­fy wheth­er Tehran has ever con­sidered weapon­iz­ing its atom­ic pro­gram.

In Au­gust, Amano stated that “ex­tens­ive activ­it­ies” at Parchin had “ser­i­ously un­der­mined the agency’s abil­ity to con­duct ef­fect­ive veri­fic­a­tion” at the site.

A num­ber of ex­perts, though, have chal­lenged the push by his or­gan­iz­a­tion to in­spect the com­plex. The U.N. agency has not pub­licly dis­closed sup­port­ing evid­ence sup­plied by mem­ber gov­ern­ments.

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