Iran stopped construction at a military base that some experts allege once hosted nuclear weapon-related experiments, a Washington think tank says.
A Nov. 27 satellite image of the Parchin facility suggests that Iran made “no significant alterations” at the location for more than three months, the Institute for Science and International Security said in its Tuesday analysis. That follows a period of more than a year in which the Middle Eastern nation pursued demolition, construction and paving activities that organization experts believe were aimed at concealing evidence of past on-site experiments relevant to nuclear-arms development.
Iran, which insists that its atomic efforts have no military dimension, began modifying the Parchin site a month after the International Atomic Energy Agency started pushing to visit the base in January 2012, according to ISIS analysts David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini. The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s interest in the site is part of a broader probe launched amid international skepticism about Tehran’s ostensibly peaceful atomic ambitions.
The apparent halt in modifications at Parchin “may mean that Iran has finished making planned changes at the site,” the experts wrote. They added, though, that the pause could alternatively “represent an effort by Iran to freeze operations there.”
U.N. inspectors remain barred from the Iranian facility under a deal struck last month by Tehran and the Vienna-based U.N. organization. In an August safeguards report, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said Iran’s “extensive activities [at Parchin] have seriously undermined the agency’s ability to conduct effective verification.”
IAEA officials suspect that the base hosted a structure capable of facilitating nuclear-related explosives tests, as well as possible development of a “neutron initiator” for activating atomic detonations.
Certain specialists, though, have questioned the U.N. agency’s rationale for pressing to visit the Parchin compound. The evidence behind those requests — intelligence gathered and furnished to the agency by IAEA member governments — remains confidential.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
What We're Following See More »
The protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline turned violent overnight as the police and National Guard sought to remove the protesters, surrounding them with assault vehicles and officers in riot gear. The law enforcement officers used pepper spray and fired bean bags for more than six hours. In response, the protesters "lit debris on fire and threw Molotov cocktails in retreat." One woman pulled out a gun and fired at officers, narrowly missing before being arrested. The protesters claim the pipeline would be constructed on land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The House has scheduled leadership votes for Nov. 15, the day after members return from their election recess. "Since mid-September, members of the House Freedom Caucus have weighed whether they should ask leadership to push back the elections so they can see how House Speaker Paul Ryan performs at the end of the year," but leaders don't seem inclined to grant their request.
Gross domestic product "expanded at a 2.9% annual clip from July through September. That’s a marked improvement from the first half of the year when the U.S. grew just barely over 1%." The robust numbers make it more likely that the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates at its next meeting.
"A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility." In a strange "coda" to the decision, Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled and tasered by marshals in the courtroom as he argued that Bundy should be free to go.