Iran is fixing up roads near the Parchin military site, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted Saturday, dismissing reports that it is engaged in a hurried clean-up of a site where it is alleged to have carried out illegal nuclear-related activity.
“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.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, suspects that the Islamic Republic may have experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms at Parchin, a military facility south of Tehran. On Thursday, the Institute for Science and International Security, a nonproliferation institute, said new satellite imagery of Parchin shows crates, trucks and construction that may be linked to a renewed attempt to clean up the site before an IAEA inspection.
The IAEA plans to visit the site soon as part of the new deal between Iran and six world powers focused on limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. Access to Parchin would follow years of refusal by Iran.
The institute cited commercial satellite images, saying they show “renewed activity” at the site. It said that this “could be related to refurbishment or cleanup prior to any IAEA inspection or the taking of environmental samples.”
It said the images show what appear to be a bulldozer or a steamroller, containers that have been repositioned and two new structures “of unknown purpose” that appeared between late May and early July.
“This renewed activity… raises obvious concerns that Iran is conducting further sanitization efforts to defeat IAEA verification,” said the Washington-based think tank, which is often consulted by the US government.
Iran’s permanent mission at the UN in New York quickly dismissed the claims as “baseless.”
“The Parchin military zone is a vast area which includes different military, industrial, administrative and residential districts and therefore, construction operations in there are natural and common,” it said in a statement.
It added that in recent days, one of the roads in front of Mamlou dam near Parchin was slightly destroyed, and was now being repaired using heavy road construction machinery.
The IAEA has repeatedly cited previous evidence of possible attempts to sanitize the Parchin site.