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August 12, 2015

Expert: Concern about Purported Iranian Nuclear Facility at Parchin “Urgent”

David Albright is both founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). Albright first came to the public’s attention as a nuclear expert who questioned whether Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and for his work in identifying attempts to build nuclear weapons by the al-Qaeda terror group. In a Washington Post commentary (“What Iran’s hostile reaction to the Parchin issue means for the nuclear deal,” Aug. 11 2015), the scientist and former weapons inspector called attention to satellite imagery suggesting that Iranian officials are attempting to erase evidence of nuclear activity at Parchin.

Albright notes that Parchin is a “site...linked by Western intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to past work on nuclear weapons.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the publication by the institute of evidence that “Iran could be again sanitizing the site to thwart environmental sampling that could reveal past nuclear weapons activities there.” Zarif called the images lies.

The nuclear expert observes that “instead of acknowledging the concern, the Iranians chose to deny the visible evidence in commercial satellite imagery.” Albright said that his organization has taken a neutral position on implementation of the deal negotiated by the United States and five other countries with Iran. He added that information about renewed Iranian activity at Parchin doesn’t come from opponents of the July 14 agreement reached between America, Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Iran over the latter’s purported nuclear program—but rather a neutral observer.

“Iran’s reaction,” Albright notes, “shows that it may be drawing a line at Parchin.” This development troubles the veteran weapons inspector who notes “concern” about the site have “become more urgent now that there is a debate raging over whether the IAEA will have adequate access to this site under the terms of its deal with Iran….concern is further heightened because Iran demanded to do sampling itself instead of letting the IAEA do it.”

The nuclear expert called that Iranian proposal “risky and unprecedented.” He noted that in previous instances of nuclear detection at the Iranian Kalaye site and the North Korean plutonium separation plant at Yongbyon, “the success of sampling that showed undeclared activities depended on samples being taken at non-obvious locations identified during previous IAEA visits.” Yet, if the Iranian’s demands are met and possible evidence of previous military-related nuclear activity is destroyed it will be “doubtful” that inspectors can convincingly verify that Iranian nuclear weapons work has ceased.

Albright calls on the Obama administration and Congress to not lift sanctions unless Iran addresses IAEA concerns about past military dimensions of Tehran’s purported program. “To do otherwise,” he states, “is to make a mockery of the nuclear deal.”

David Albright’s article in The Washington Post can be found here. —Sean Durns

Posted by ER at August 12, 2015 04:00 PM

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