U.S. nuclear expert finds Iran explosive site in imagery

Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:42pm EDT
 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. non-proliferation expert said on Tuesday he has identified a building at the Parchin military site in Iran suspected of containing, currently or previously, a high-explosive test chamber the U.N. nuclear watchdog wants to visit.

David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, said he studied commercial satellite imagery and found a building located on a relatively small and isolated compound at Parchin that fit a description in the November 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report.

The building has its own perimeter security wall or fencing and there is a berm between the building and a neighboring building, Albright said in a report.

The compound is located more than four kilometers away from high-explosive related facilities at Parchin which the IAEA visited in 2005, Albright's report said.

Iran refused access to Parchin, southeast of Tehran, during two rounds of talks with IAEA inspectors. Western diplomats say Iran may be delaying access to give it time to sanitize the facility of any incriminating evidence of explosive tests that would indicate efforts to design nuclear weapons.

"We have information that some activity is ongoing there," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said recently, referring to Parchin.

The IAEA has evidence that the test chamber was placed at Parchin in 2000 and that a building was subsequently constructed around it, Albright's report said.

The information was that a large explosive test chamber was used to conduct experiments possibly related to the development of nuclear weapons in the early years after 2000, Albright said.

He was not able to gauge the level of activity at this particular site without comparing it to multiple images over a short period of time.

The ISIS report and satellite imagery can be found here here

(Reporting By Tabassum Zakaria; editing by Todd Eastham)

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano reacts as he attends a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna March 5, 2012. The United Nations nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday there were indications of "activities" taking place at an Iranian military site which his inspectors want to visit as part of an investigation into Tehran's atomic activities. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer