The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran has apparently built an extension on its controversial military base at Parchin. The base has been a much discussed issue recently as it is part of one of the side deals Iran made with the IAEA in the nuclear agreement.
The news raises more questions about just who is going to be inspecting the base and what kind of access the IAEA will have to do its job.
A resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Parchin file, which includes a demand for fresh IAEA access to the site, is a symbolically important issue that could help make or break Tehran’s July 14 nuclear deal with six world powers.
The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:
“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. In addition, a small extension to an existing building” appeared to have been built.
The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.
The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as “fabricated”.
Under a “road map” accord Iran reached with the IAEA parallel to its groundbreaking settlement with the global powers, it is required to give the Vienna-based watchdog enough information about its past nuclear activity to allow it to write a report on the long vexed issue by year-end.
“Full and timely implementation of the relevant parts of the road-map is essential to clarify issues relating to this location at Parchin,” the new IAEA report said.
According to data given to the IAEA by some member states, Parchin might have housed hydrodynamic experiments to assess how specific materials react under high pressure, such as in a nuclear blast.
“We cannot know or speculate what’s in the (extended) building … It’s something we will technically clarify over the course of the year,” the senior diplomat said. The report said the extended building was not the one that some countries suspect has housed the controversial experiments.
“It’s funny that the IAEA claims there has been a small extension to a building … Iran doesn’t need to ask for the IAEA’s permission to do construction work on its sites,” Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the agency, was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
Anyone who wasn’t convinced that Iran is thumbing its nose at the rest of the world as this agreement is implemented need only look at their reaction to the IAEA revelations. And the six powers are so committed to seeing this agreement implemented that Iran could send in a report on past nuclear activities written by 10 chimpanzees and it would be meekly accepted by the UN.
If the issues surrounding Parchin are not going to blow up the deal, nothing will. The Obama administration’s eagerness to get the UN to sign off on the deal before Congress now looks like a blunder of epic proportions. The momentum is irreversible and nobody — not the IAEA, the P5+1, or the U.S. Congress — is going to stop the party before it starts.