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Iran Seen Resuming Work at Suspect Military Base

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, left, speaks during a press conference with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano. Iran appears to have resumed activities at a military base where the U.N. agency believes nuclear-related experiments may have been performed, according to a Washington think tank. Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, left, speaks during a press conference with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano. Iran appears to have resumed activities at a military base where the U.N. agency believes nuclear-related experiments may have been performed, according to a Washington think tank. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran has resumed activities at an installation believed by some specialists to have housed nuclear-arms studies, says a Washington analytical group.

A Jan. 30 satellite photograph shows new movements at Iran's Parchin base following an apparent lull in large-scale operations at the site, according to a Tuesday assessment by the Institute for Science and International Security. The facility remains off-limits to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors who suspect it may have once hosted a structure capable of accommodating atomic-relevant detonation experiments, as well as potential work on a "neutron initiator" to trigger nuclear blasts.

The think tank said that debris and possible construction supplies have appeared close to the suspected detonation chamber's former housing, as well as near an edifice on the northern edge of the Parchin complex.

The finding came less than a week after IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano cited the appearance of apparent construction materials and debris at Parchin since November.

ISIS analysts said the alterations they found "are apparently the ones noted by the IAEA in the [Feb. 20] Iran safeguards report and listed among the issues that continue to create concerns about the hiding of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program."

The U.N. nuclear watchdog cannot access Parchin under a weeks-old agreement addressing other elements in an investigation of the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear activities. The international probe is intended to help clarify whether Tehran has ever considered weaponizing its atomic program.

In August, Amano stated that "extensive activities" at Parchin had "seriously undermined the agency’s ability to conduct effective verification" at the site.

A number of experts, though, have challenged the push by his organization to inspect the complex. The U.N. agency has not publicly disclosed supporting evidence supplied by member governments.

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