New satellite images of an Iranian site thought to be used for work on a nuclear weapon show crates, trucks and construction that may indicate a renewed attempt to clean up the facility before an inspection by the U.N., a nonproliferation watchdog said Thursday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly raised concerns about previous possibly attempts to clean up the site, located in Parchin.
But the new report by the Institute for Science and International Security — a Washington-based think tank frequently consulted by the U.S. government — is significant because the IAEA will soon visit the site as part of the new nuclear deal, The Associated Press reported.
In an email to AP, the institute cited the images, saying they show “renewed activity” at the site that “could be related to refurbishment or cleanup prior to any IAEA inspection of the taking of environmental samples.”
The images show what appear to be a bulldozer or a steamroller, containers that have been repositioned and two new structures of “unknown purpose” that appeared between late May and early June, AP reported.
“This renewed activity … raises obvious concerns that Iran is conducting further sanitization efforts to defeat IAEA verification,” the think tank wrote, AP reported.
Iran’s foreign ministry has called the report “baseless (and) ridiculous” and attributed the construction to road repairs.
Iran has refused access to Parchin for years and has denied any work on nuclear arms in the area. However the IAEA, using U.S., Israeli and other intelligence and its own research, suspects that Iran may have have experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms at that military facility south of Tehran, and other weapons-related work elsewhere.