Obama administration suspiciously mum on the Institute for Science and International Security’s report, as POTUS is maneuvering to pressure skeptics in Congress into supporting his Iranian deal.
By Reuters & Israel Hayom Staff
A prominent U.S. think tank on Friday questioned Iran’s explanation for activity at its Parchin military site visible in satellite imagery, saying the movement of vehicles did not appear related to road work.
A satellite image of the suspected Parchin military nuclear site in Iran – Photo: AP
The U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said this week that Iran might be sanitizing its Parchin military site, where some countries suspect experiments may have taken place in a possible nuclear weapons program. Iran denied it, saying it was part of road works near the Mamloo Dam.
The think tank issued a fresh analysis on Friday disputing Iran’s story.
“Commercial satellite imagery does not support the Iranian explanation,” the think tank said in a statement. “ISIS analyzed commercially available satellite imagery taken on July 12, 19, and 26, 2015 but did not find any visible signatures related to road work on the road near the dam.”
It said it would make little sense for Iran to “park vehicles three kilometers south of the dam and at the one site that would create intense concern and suspicion about Iran’s intentions to comply with the recently negotiated [deal].”
A spokesman for Iran’s U.N. mission in New York said Tehran stood by its statement from Thursday and had nothing to add.
On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the accusations about Parchin were “lies” spread by opponents of the landmark nuclear deal world powers and Iran reached last month.
“We said that the activities in Parchin are related to road construction,” Zarif was quoted as saying by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. “They [opponents of the deal] have spread these lies before. Their goal is to damage the agreement.”
The Institute for Science and International Security was quick to deny on Twitter that it was one of the deal’s opponents.
“We are neutral,” the think tank said.
Parchin is a site to which the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, requested access as part of the July 14 nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers, including the United States.
ISIS suggested Iran could be engaged in cleanup work before IAEA inspectors arrive. Iran’s parliament speaker was also dismissive of the think tank’s suggestion.
“This is an artificial dispute to distract the world,” Ali Larijani was quoted on Saturday by the Fars news agency as saying. Larijani said Israel, unhappy with the deal, was trying to stop it from going ahead.
Attempts to sanitize the site could complicate the work of the IAEA, whose job it is to judge whether Iran’s past atomic activity was linked to developing weapons, including through access to Parchin.
“There is no support in the imagery for the Iranian explanation,” ISIS’ new analysis said. “Iran’s explanation appears to be that the vehicles at the suspect site were there inadvertently, but this explanation strains believability.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Thursday he could not confirm the findings but that any cleanup effort would be of concern. The ISIS findings come as the Obama administration is struggling to convince skeptics in Congress to support the deal.
Under the nuclear deal, most sanctions on Iran will be lifted once the IAEA verifies Iranian compliance with the terms of the agreement, including strict limits on Iranian nuclear activities and answering questions about its past atomic work. Iran claims it has never sought atomic weapons.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=27443