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Iran Continues Operations at Military Site: Report

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reza Najafi, shown in September at the U.N. atomic agency's headquarters in Vienna. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security on Monday said Iran has continued activities at a military base suspected to have hosted nuclear weapon-related experiments. Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reza Najafi, shown in September at the U.N. atomic agency's headquarters in Vienna. The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security on Monday said Iran has continued activities at a military base suspected to have hosted nuclear weapon-related experiments. (Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington-based analysts say Iran has pressed ahead with operations at a military base suspected to have hosted nuclear weapon-related experiments.

An April 25 satellite image of Iran's Parchin installation suggests the nation, since January, has moved "possible building material and debris" near a building that the International Atomic Energy Agency has sought unsuccessfully for more than two years to visit, according to a Monday assessment by the Institute for Science and International Security. The U.N. nuclear watchdog believes the structure may once have been capable of hosting explosion tests relevant to nuclear-arms development.

"Two trucks or containers have been removed from the area surrounding the suspected high-explosives test building, while a larger object, possibly a truck or large container, appears slightly north of it," ISIS analysts David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini said in their report.

Iran, which insists that its atomic ambitions are strictly peaceful, began altering the Parchin facility weeks after IAEA officials began seeking access to the location, the independent experts said.

The nation last year undertook a months-long pause in activities at the site, but a January image analysis revealed an apparent resumption of operations there, the analysis says.

This week's findings came as Iran launched a new round of multilateral talks aimed at defusing international fears over Tehran's suspected nuclear-arms aspirations.

"By continuing to modify the site and denying the IAEA access, Iran is reducing the chances of reaching a comprehensive solution by the initial deadline of July 20," when an interim nuclear agreement with major powers is scheduled to expire, the ISIS report says.

Certain specialists have questioned the U.N. agency's rationale for pressing to visit the Parchin compound. The evidence prompting those requests -- intelligence gathered and furnished to the agency by IAEA member governments -- remains confidential.

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