Now as roofing two buildings at the Parchin military complex east of Tehran has nearly been completed, we get another chance of having a look from space thanks to David Albright’s Washington think tank ISIS who has kept us up to date. A lot has been achieved there since April when satellite pictures had indicated what resembled a vigorous spring cleaning using even quite a lot of water. After having removed now glaring pink tarps, the new roofs appear pleasantly blue. The area around the two buildings has been leveled and even some gardening seems to have taken place with piles of (garden?) mold neatly assembled probably for further beautification.
The problem is that one of the buildings has been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), indicated by its Director General Yukiya Amano in his November 2011 report, as having been constructed for illicit experiments with high-explosives in the early 2000s,
“49. Other information […] provided by Member States indicates that Iran constructed a large explosives containment vessel in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments. The explosives vessel, or chamber, is said to have been put in place at Parchin in 2000. A building was constructed at that time around a large cylindrical object at a location at the Parchin military complex. A large earth berm was subsequently constructed between the building containing the cylinder and a neighbouring building, indicating the probable use of high explosives in the chamber. The Agency has obtained commercial satellite images that are consistent with this information.”
Probably the same member state(s) which leaked the rather ridiculous graph the other day to Associated Press’ George Jahn which is supposed to prove Iran’s interest in computer simulations of nuclear test and which has been debunked by so many people in the meantime that I find it hard to write something halfway intelligent about it.
Well, when having visited Parchin in 2005 twice, IAEA inspectors were not able to locate these rather peripheral two buildings (encircled at the top of the picture) inside this huge complex. Iran has not granted again access, which has been requested by the IAEA since Amano’s report, while work went on and ISIS reported regularly, not noticing that its founder and president David Albright made himself a laughing stock when asking IAEA’s DG and the Board of Governors the urgent question, “what should now be done about Iran’s continued refusal of a legitimate request for access combined with its alterations of the site?”
Indeed, what should be done? Does IAEA has a mandate to visit the site? Well, there seem to be different opinions about that. Would it help if Iran would provide access? If one actually assumes what Albright and others fear, what are the consequences of a visit? Supposed they have actually been conducted in the early 2000s (and, according to the 2007 NIE, abandoned in 2003), IAEA inspectors certainly would still find evidence for illicit experiments with high-explosives. Nuclear experiments cannot be undone just by cleaning buildings and removing and replacing soil. Even if they won’t find anything, with all these heavy construction work at the site in recent months Iran would not become a credible and responsible player overnight.
So, consequences are dire anyway. Unilateral sanctions, which are underway, will be a precursor for new UN sanctions and Iran’s pariah status cemented. And presidential elections are upcoming. Maybe both officials in the U.S. and Iran consider Nowruz as being a delightful occasion to officially show IAEA inspectors and the world the now tidied-up tool sheds. Until then, we have to wait for new satellite images provided by David Albright.
1 December 2012 @ 10:55 am
Last modified December 1, 2012.