New image shows Iran razed suspected nuclear site
VIENNA: A new satellite image obtained on Wednesday by Reuters shows Iran has almost completely scraped clean a suspected nuclear site in Tehran, which the United States says is proof of an attempt to hide a weapons programme.
A satellite image from May 10, taken by the GlobalDigital satellite firm and provided to Reuters by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, shows clearly that Iran has almost completed the task of razing the Lavizan-Shiyan Technical Research Centre to the ground.
Last week, Reuters reported that two satellite photos from August 2003 and March 2004 showed Iran had been demolishing buildings and carting away topsoil from Lavizan, which the United States said was proof Iran is trying to hide nuclear activities from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency.
Comparing the images from May 10 and March 22, experts said it was clear that in less than two months Iran has nearly completed the task of erasing the research centre from the face of the earth.
“What I see is the removal of roads and curbs and some vegetation,” Corey Hinderstein, deputy director of ISIS, told Reuters.
“These measures could make it more difficult for the IAEA to detect particles of significant (nuclear) material at the site if they were there before these measures were taken.”
Last year, Iran carried out significant reconstruction work at the Kalaye Electric Company before granting IAEA inspectors permission to take environmental samples there. When the inspectors were finally given access after several months delay, they found traces of highly-enriched uranium.
The United States accused Iran of trying to sanitise the site prior to the arrival of UN inspectors. Last week, Washington said Iran was doing the same at Lavizan.
Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for nuclear power plants or, when very highly enriched, in weapons.
The IAEA has never been able to clearly identify the origin of the uranium traces. Iran says all the traces are from contaminated components for centrifuges, machines used to purify uranium, purchased on the black market. reuters