Photos of Iranian ‘N-site’ released
VIENNA: The Institute for Science and International Security think tank on Wednesday released seven satellite photographs of an Iranian military complex suspected of doing illicit nuclear weapons work.
The satellite images showed the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran may be a site for research, testing and production of nuclear weapons. The pictures show a large industrial complex hidden in a warren of valleys and crevices created by a mountainous plateau in northern Iran. A paved road snaking in between barren hills connects warehouse-like buildings and smaller installations.
But expert commentary accompanying the material suggests that the Parchin conventional weapons complex, located about 30 kilometres southeast of Tehran, could also be used for nuclear work. “This site is a logical candidate for a nuclear weapons-related site, particularly one involved in researching and developing high explosive components for an implosion-type nuclear weapon,” weapons experts David Albright and Corey Hinderstein commented on the images.
Their suspicion is directed toward what they see as a high explosive testing bunker set in a rocky hollow. “The concern is that this bunker could be where Iran would test a full-scale mock-up of a nuclear explosive using natural or depleted uranium as a surrogate of a highly enriched uranium core,” Albright and Hinderstein pointed out. US officials insist the work at the military complex was used by Tehran as cover for a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.
A senior Iranian official said on Thursday that a nuclear expert’s allegation that Tehran was hiding an atomic site from UN inspectors was a carefully timed lie intended to influence a resolution on its nuclear programme. “This is a new lie, like the last 13 lies based on news reports that have been proved to be lies,” Hossein Mousavian, Iran’s chief delegate to this week’s meeting in Vienna of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said.
Albright said the UN’s nuclear watchdog had asked to inspect the site but its request had been ignored. But Mousavian said: “They have not asked to see the site.” The IAEA declined to comment, but Western diplomats familiar with the matter said Parchin was not a new site for IAEA inspectors.
Mousavian said the allegation was timed to influence talks on a draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme that could set the stage for November showdown at the IAEA. That could result in the case being referred to the UN Security Council, something Washington has demanded for more than a year. agencies