Iran has been hauling dirt to a military site U.N. nuclear inspectors want to visit, Western diplomats said on Wednesday, saying the findings were based on satellite images and they reinforced suspicions of a clean-up.
They said the pictures, presented during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested Iran was continuing to try to hide incriminating traces of any illicit nuclear-related activity.
The allegations come a few days after the IAEA said in a report on Iran that “extensive activities” undertaken at the Parchin site since early this year would seriously undermine its inquiry, if and when inspectors were allowed access.
Iran has so far denied the agency’s request for a visit.
The U.N. agency believes Iran may have conducted explosives tests that could help develop nuclear weapons at Parchin and wants immediate access to investigate the facility. Iran denies this, saying Parchin is a conventional military complex.
The latest satellite image, dated November 7, showed what appeared to be piles of dirt, according to diplomats who attended the briefing by chief U.N. inspector Herman Nackaerts.
“They have been scraping the earth. Now they obviously want to put down new earth. There are piles of them that you can see,” one diplomat said, adding a fence had also come down.
“We are wondering whether they are intending to bring down … the buildings, we don’t know yet,” he added, referring to a structure believed to house a steel chamber for past explosives tests, as well as a nearby building.
Iran’s mission to the IAEA was not available for comment.
The IAEA report, issued on Friday, listed activities observed at Parchin since February, including the removal of “considerable quantities” of earth at the location in question and its surrounding area, which it said covered 25 hectares (62 acres).
This had been followed by “further removal of earth to a greater depth … and the depositing of new earth in its place.”
Read more at: Reuters