U.N. Agency Says Iran May Have Built Extension at Parchin Nuclear Site

IAEA Director General Amano addresses a news conference after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano / Reuters
• August 27, 2015 1:31 pm


A report from the U.N. agency tasked with inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities indicates that since May, the country may have built an extension to its Parchin military site believed to have housed nuclear arms testing.

In the document, obtained by Reuters, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discloses that vehicles, equipment and construction materials have moved through a location at the Parchin nuclear site in recent months.

"Since [our] previous report [in May], at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials," the report explains. "In addition, a small extension to an existing building appears to have constructed."

According to an unnamed senior diplomat familiar with the IAEA probe into the military complex, the changes to the site were first noticed in July, the same month that Iran and world powers finalized the nuclear agreement.

The IAEA is responsible for ensuring that Iran abides by the stipulations in the nuclear deal. The U.N. agency and Iran have brokered secret side agreements to the larger deal that govern the inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites as well as the extent to which Tehran must admit to the details of its alleged nuclear weapons program.

According to the Associated Press, the recent IAEA report also suggests that "activities" at Parchin over the last several years may well prevent the agency from conducting "effective verification" of the country’s nuclear work.

"The activities that have taken place at this location since February 2012 are likely to have undermined the agency’s ability to conduct effective verification," the report reads.

The IAEA has received data from member states that suggests that Parchin may have been used for hydrodynamic experiments to analyze how certain materials react under high pressure like that generated by a nuclear blast.

According to the anonymous senior diplomat, the IAEA is unable to "speculate" on the contents of the apparent building extension at Parchin.

"We cannot know or speculate what’s in the [extended] building. The building itself is not related to the most interesting building for us. … It’s something we will technically clarify over the course of the year," said the diplomat.

Last week, an apparent draft of one of the secret side deals between Iran and the IAEA indicated that Tehran will be permitted to use its own experts to inspect the Parchin site. While the IAEA dismissed the report regarding the draft of the agreement a "misrepresentation," a senior State Department official refused to deny that Iran will "play a role" in the inspections.

Published under: Iran, Nuclear Weapons