Diplomacy

U.S. Intelligence: Iran Sanitizing Suspected Nuke Site Ahead of Possible Inspections

American intelligence has detected Iran attempting to sanitize Parchin, the military site where the Islamic Republic is suspected of carrying out tests on detonators that could be used to trigger nuclear explosions, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake of Bloomberg View reported on Wednesday.

The U.S. intelligence community has informed Congress of evidence that Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, in broad daylight, days after agreeing to a nuclear deal with world powers. …

Intelligence officials and lawmakers who have seen the new evidence, which is still classified, told us that satellite imagery picked up by U.S. government assets in mid- and late July showed that Iran had moved bulldozers and other heavy machinery to the Parchin site and that the U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that the Iranian government was working to clean up the site ahead of planned inspections by the [International Atomic Energy Agency].

The intelligence community shared its findings with lawmakers and some Congressional staff late last week, four people who have seen the evidence told us. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefed lawmakers about the evidence Monday, three U.S. senators said.

This new revelation “calls into question Iran’s intention to fully account for the possible military dimensions of its current and past nuclear development.”

A meeting Wednesday between the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senators and Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was, in the words of one senator, “not very reassuring” in convincing them that the secret side deals between the IAEA and Iran will ensure that the agency has the necessary information to determine the scope of Iran’s previous nuclear work.

In a speech Wednesday intended to boost support for the nuclear deal with Iran, President Barack Obama said that if “Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place.” However, the president wasn’t clear on what would happen if Iran cheated before sanctions were lifted.

Parchin has long been a point of contention between the IAEA and Iran. Iran has promised to come clean about its past nuclear work but has consistently refused to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the section of Parchin where the detonation experiments were thought to have taken place. Last year, for example, Iran agreed to allow inspectors to visit Parchin, but refused them entry by the deadline it had agreed to.

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