“Satellite imagery picked up by U.S. government assets in mid- and late July showed that Iran had moved bulldozers and other heavy machinery to the Parchin site and that the U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that the Iranian government was working to clean up the site ahead of planned inspections by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” Bloomberg View reported Wednesday, citing U.S. intelligence community sources.
The president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, obtained and examined a commercially available satellite image of the Parchin site, reporting that hew saw two new large vehicles and ongoing alterations.
“You have to worry that this could be an attempt by Iran to defeat the sampling, that it’s Iran’s last-ditch effort to eradicate evidence there. The day is coming when they are going to have to let the IAEA into Parchin, so they may be desperate to finish sanitizing the site,” Albright said.
A senior intelligence official also said that the IAEA has been aware of “sanitization efforts” taking place in Iran since the deal was reached last month, but that the IAEA should still be able to detect past nuclear work using technical means during inspections.
U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) cast doubt on that belief earlier this week, stating that IAEA inspectors “are certainly not going to see the site that existed. Whether that’s a site that can be determined what it did, only the technical experts can do that. I think it’s a huge concern.”
“The intel briefing was troubling to me… some of the things that are happening, especially happening in such a blatant way. Iran is going to know that we know,” added Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
Concern over this issue is not limited to Republican lawmakers, who are overwhelmingly opposing the Iran nuclear deal. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern “about the vigorous efforts by Iran to sanitize Parchin.”
“I’ve gotten some reassurance about how difficult it is for them to effectively conceal what we know to have been their illicit nuclear weapons developments there,” he said.