Iran’s state-run news agency reported earlier today that Iran’s leaders have announced they will allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency into its Parchin military site.
IAEA officials were not allowed to visit the site last month. The IAEA report released in November reported indications that at Parchin Iran “constructed a large explosives containment vessel in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments. The explosives vessel, or chamber, is said to have been put in place at Parchin in 2000. A building was constructed at that time around a large cylindrical object at a location at the Parchin military complex. A large earth berm was subsequently constructed between the building containing the cylinder and a neighbouring building, indicating the probable use of high explosives in the chamber. The Agency has obtained commercial satellite images that are consistent with this information.”
The White House today greeted the news with skepticism. “Twice this year, a high-level IAEA delegation visited Tehran in an effort to reach an agreement with Iran on a mechanism to clarify outstanding questions regarding past and present Iranian activities with a suspicious connection to a nuclear weapons program,” one spokesman said. “On both visits, IAEA officials asked, as a initial goodwill gesture on the part of Iran to demonstrate its readiness to cooperate, to visit the Parchin military site, where alleged high explosives experiments occurred. On both occasions, Iran rejected this request.”
The spokesman continued: “While we are pleased that Iran has finally agreed, in principle, to permit the IAEA to visit this site, we note that Iran has already stated that ‘guidelines’ for any visit must be agreed upon. The United States supports Director General Amano when he declares that all such visits and inspections must proceed on the established basis of Agency verification practice. We encourage Iran to carry through on this commitment, as expeditiously as possible, and enable the Agency full and transparent access to the Parchin site as a first step in clarifying the serious questions of the international community regarding Iran’s involvement in suspected nuclear weapons activities.”
-Jake Tapper and Alexander Marquardt