IAEA says Iran has expanded Parchin nuclear facility
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IAEA says Iran has expanded Parchin nuclear facility

UN agency's report says regime's activity at suspect site has undermined capacity to 'conduct effective verification'

Satellite image of the Parchin facility, April 2012 (AP/Institute for Science and International Security)
Satellite image of the Parchin facility, April 2012 (AP/Institute for Science and International Security)

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency reported Thursday that while Iran has largely been complying with agreements on curtailing its nuclear program, it has built an extension to its military facility at Parchin.

A segment of the confidential report seen by the Reuters news agency says the Islamic Republic’s activity at the site since February 2012 has likely undermined the IAEA’s ability to “conduct effective verification.”

“Since [our] previous report [in May], at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building appears to have [been] constructed,” the report was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The report covers Iranian activity from before the signing of the long-term nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers in July.

Activities at the site since 2012, during a time Iran stonewalled IAEA requests to visit the site or receive information on it, have undermined the agency’s ability to verify intelligence suggesting that Tehran conducted tests relevant to nuclear bomb detonations at the site in the past, diplomats said Thursday.

Specifically, the IAEA believes Tehran may have experimented there with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Yukiya Amano of Japan addresses the media during a news conference after a meeting of the IAEA board of governors at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday Aug. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Yukiya Amano of Japan addresses the media during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday Aug. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

On Tuesday, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said that his agency received large amounts of information from Tehran but it was too early to say whether any of the information is new.

Three weeks ago, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country was fixing up roads near the Parchin site, dismissing Western reports based on satellite imagery that Tehran was engaged in a hurried clean-up of the facility.

“We have announced that road construction operations are being carried out at Parchin,” Zarif told reporters in Tehran, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Claims to the contrary, he said, were “lies,” he said. “All allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran in this ground have always been baseless,” Zarif added.

Israel last week demanded the publication of undisclosed agreements reached between Iran and the IAEA, after a report on part of the accord detailed Iran’s ability to police itself at Parchin. The Associated Press reported the nuclear watchdog ceded the responsibility of nuclear inspections at the Parchin military complex to Tehran officials, and published what it said was a text of the side deal.

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