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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Iran's nuclear shell game

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) presented the satellite images above on Thursday as evidence that Iran is continuing its efforts to destroy evidence of the existence of nuclear weapons development activity at its Parchin military base.
The UN nuclear watchdog stated that "based on satellite imagery, at this location, where virtually no activity had been observed for a number of years, the buildings of interest to the Agency are now subject to extensive activities that could hamper the Agency’s ability to undertake effective verification."

Western envoys who attended Wednesday's briefing said that two small side buildings at the Parchin military facility had been removed and ISIS said that they "have been completely razed."

The disclosure followed inconclusive talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad last week to address concerns about the nature of its nuclear activities, which Iran says are aimed at generating electricity.

"Heavy machinery tracks and extensive evidence of earth displacement is also visible throughout the interior as well as the exterior of the site's perimeter," the think-tank said.
Iran, which once again dismissed the allegations, has been denying IAEA inspectors access to Parchin for months.

But there's a far more interesting question: Even if Iran destroyed the buildings in question, the nuclear development activity that was carried out there is highly unlikely to have been stopped. Where did it go? My bet is on Fordow (near Qom), which is an underground facility. If I'm right, the focus on Parchin, while potentially important, is more likely a distraction from current nuclear weapons building efforts.

What could go wrong?

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