Under Scrutiny

Updated below (July 4, 6)

New satellite imagery of a suspect site at Parchin military complex in Iran, 30 km east of Tehran have been published yesterday by David Albright and Robert Avagyan of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). The June 7 picture shows further heavy activity including anew flow of water from the main building and moved soil all of which had been interpreted as cleansing and sanitizing  a site where Iran had allegedly conducted illicit nuclear experiments including high explosive tests, at least a decade ago. While two smaller building close to the main building have been destroyed as was seen on May 25 pictures, nuclear engineer Robert Kelley and former director at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has pointed to the fact (on Jeffrey Lewis’ ArmsControlWonk) that the suspect main building itself was still intact. It seems quite reasonable to conclude,

“The Director General of the IAEA is reinforcing claims of the US member of the IAEA Board of Governors that the Parchin site is being sanitized, when it is clear that only one area outside the boundaries of that site may be in the process of being cleared for unknown purposes.  The area next to the test building, where any random uranium contamination might have occurred and is the area that would need sanitizations remains untouched.  The alleged suspicious activity is outside the fence, and in some cases is probably not even occurring.  When trees and features up to 12 years old have not been disturbed it is incredible to say they are being sanitized.

Iran should be asked to explain why they are leveling a field outside the boundaries of a non-nuclear site not subject to IAEA inspections.  They may choose not to answer.  The Director General should be asked to explain why he characterizes minor landscaping activities outside the boundaries of a site that troubles him, as sanitization and worrying.  He too may not choose to answer.”

Comments to his opinion by him, David Albright and others are informative, too.

In prospect of the failed Moscow Talks of E3+3 of June 18 and 19, Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service had suggested that any highly visible activities at a such scrutinized site (which anyway would not remove easily traceable amounts of nuclear material) would make sense for Iran only if it could prove without doubt that nothing illicit has ever been done there if and when IAEA inspectors are eventually allowed to visit the site. “The only thing missing is somebody waving to the satellite,” he quotes nuclear scientist Dr. Behrad Nakhai.

Well, sort of red herring. Porter writes,

“The nature of the changes depicted in the images [of May 8 and 30] and the circumstances surrounding them suggest, however, that Iran made them to gain leverage in its negotiations with the IAEA rather than to hide past nuclear experiments. “

But this has apparently not happened. When IAEA can inspect the site is, after Moscow, unclear.

June 21, 2012 @ 6:57

Update July 4, 2012. ISIS has published the other day new satellite imagery of June 21 indicating what David Albright and Robert Avagyan consider progress of “suspected activity at the Parchin site,” lots of bulldozing, again water flow, etc. The suspect main building seems to be still intact, though. Environmental samples eventually taken by IAEA inspectors would probably not be affected. Even Iranians know that.

Update July 6, 2012. And here Gareth Porter’s new account debunking the whole tale of the Parchin site.

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