Satellite images show that Iran has completed cleanup activity at a suspected nuclear weapons-related site, a Washington-based research group said today.
The Parchin military complex attracted international attention early this year when the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, sought to inspect the site because of suspected undeclared nuclear activities.
The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based non-profit research group, reported in May that satellite images taken in April indicated that Iran had begun substantial earth removal and other activities at the site to eliminate evidence of nuclear weapons work.
“Over the subsequent four months there was considerable activity with the razing of two buildings within the site, notable earth removal and displacement, the likely cleanup of the inside of the suspect building and possibly its exterior surfaces, the removal of the security perimeter, and the removal of all roadways,” according to the report today by David Albright, president of the non-profit research group, and Robert Avagyan.
“The degree of the site’s modification and the fact that this apparent cleanup work started soon after the IAEA’s request for access cast further doubt on Iran’s claims that its nuclear program does not or has never had any military aspects,” they wrote.
The report comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today in Israel that all possible means must be tried before a military strike against Iran and that the U.S. is prepared to use force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
In November, the IAEA reported that it had “credible” evidence that Iran built a container inside of which scientists studied blast patterns useful for triggering a nuclear weapon.
After the IAEA sought permission to send inspectors to the site, Iran in early June denied a visit to the military base 18 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Tehran.
As recently as June 21, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said access to Parchin remained a “matter of priority” for inspectors.
Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful and charged that the allegations are based on fabricated intelligence provided to IAEA inspectors by Western nations.
Albright and Avagyan wrote that the IAEA may not be able to make further progress at the site, and the issue should be sent to the UN Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Iran.