Parchin and Iran’s nuclear program
With all the overwhelming evidence against it, Iran must not be given the chance to again mislead the world.
ISIS: Two buildings razed at Parchin. Photo: DigitalGlobe - ISIS
According to the May 25, 2012, report of the director- general of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), his agency requested access to the
Parchin site in Iran, long suspected of hosting a test facility related to the
development of nuclear explosives. This was also one of the topics discussed
between the director-general and the Iranian delegation during the
well-publicized May 14-15 Tehran meeting. Although both sides said that an
agreement was imminent, no details were available. The Iranians also said that
no access would be granted to Parchin without an agreement on a “structured
approach to the clarification of all outstanding issues related to Iran’s
Even prior to the IAEA report, there have been
reports that Iran was carrying out cleaning operations at the Parchin site,
apparently with the aim of removing any evidence of work related to the
development of nuclear weapons. A later report by the Institute for Science and
International Security (ISIS) presented satellite evidence that two small
buildings, in the vicinity of the suspect larger test building, were razed.
This, the report said, was reminiscent of the 2004 activity that took place at
the Tehran Lavizan- Shian site, where a complete R&D site was razed to the
ground and all topsoil removed to an unknown site. This happened because the
IAEA had proven its ability to take environmental samples that proved that Iran
was conducting illicit, undeclared activities that proved its non-compliance
with its NPT obligations.
It is therefore reasonable to assess that the
Iranians had learned their lessons, and will not permit any visits to any
suspect site until it is convinced that no negative evidence would be uncovered
as a result of that visit. They would also delay signing the agreement with the
IAEA on the “structured approach” until all cleanup operations were
Moreover, it is reasonable to guess that the Iranians would
use these negative results, if the visit took place, to demonstrate their
cooperation, and to claim that they convincingly proved that Iran had no
military nuclear program.
This would become a no-win situation for the
IAEA, with a certain win for Iran.
The IAEA must avoid this.
this is not the only pitfall for the IAEA and the international community. A
very old statement used by the previous director-general, picked up by the
international organizations, and by many politicians the world over, including
US politicians, is the reference to the need of Iran “to establish international
confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear
This is a tongue-in-cheek expression that is illusionary and
useless at the same time. At this late stage of the game, recalling the
director-general’s report of November 2011, with all its evidence of a military
nuclear program, and recalling all the auxiliary evidence that has appeared from
time to time in the media, this call must be changed. The call must be now to
dismantle all the components of the Iranian military-related nuclear program, to
convincingly prove that all components have been done away with and only then
assume that Iran’s nuclear program is probably dedicated to peaceful
In order to achieve this, Iran must agree, unconditionally, to
provide access to all suspect facilities, those known at present and those that
will be uncovered in the future, and to all documentation and personnel involved
in these programs.
To be realistic, Iran will never permit this. Iran
will try to avoid this sort of inquiry and will try to convince the world of its
peaceful intentions, while avoiding the need to answer uncomfortable questions.
A visit to Parchin that will discover no untoward evidence will certainly help
Iran in this attempt. With all the overwhelming evidence against it, Iran must
not be given the chance to again mislead the world and go on its way toward
achieving the potential of producing nuclear weapons in short order when it so
The ongoing uranium enrichment program will certainly let it
The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for
National Security Studies (INSS).