Iran razes buildings near suspected Parchin nuclear site

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By Jonathan Tirone

Iran razed two buildings near a suspected nuclear-trigger test site inside of its sprawling Parchin military complex, satellite images published by the Institute for Science and International Security show.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have been trying to gain access to Parchin since January as part of its oversight of suspected nuclear sites in Iran. The IAEA said last week that it had reached an agreement with Iranian authorities to broaden its investigation. Iran is under multiple international sanctions on concern the country is seeking a nuclear bomb, a charge Iran denies.

The ISIS obtained the images, taken May 25, from DigitalGlobe Inc. (DGI), a Longmont, Colorado-based commercial- satellite operator. The buildings were destroyed near another structure suspected of housing a blast chamber allegedly used to contain and study the impacts of high explosives, according to the ISIS.

Explanation Sought

“The razing of the two buildings may also indicate that Iran has no intention to allow inspectors access soon,” David Albright and Robert Avagyan wrote for ISIS. “Iran should immediately allow the IAEA access to Parchin and explain the significance of these apparent clean-up activities.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast could not be reached by phone today at his office in Tehran. Thursday is the start of the weekend in Iran.

Improved Iranian cooperation with international inspectors has been a key demand in negotiations between world powers and the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Iran needs to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an interview with Turkey’s NTV news channel in Istanbul today, urging the country to cooperate closely with the IAEA.

A senior western official told reporters in Vienna today that the U.S. and its allies believe Iran is trying to sanitize the Parchin site, 18 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Tehran, and that the Persian Gulf country’s actions are fueling skepticism about its nuclear intentions. Efforts to clean up the site prove Iran is worried that inspectors may find something indicating it was working on atomic weapons, according to the official.

Negotiators from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia plan to meet their Iranian counterparts on June 18 and 19 in Moscow. It will mark the third attempt in three months to address international worries that Iran’s atomic energy program may be a cover for secret weapons work, and Iran’s concerns about sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

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