Unsupervised Iranian technicians provided environmental samples to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which were used to inspect the controversial Iranian nuclear site in Parchin. Disturbing accounts about the IAEA’s lack of oversight at the controversial site has cast a large shadow of doubt on claims the nuclear deal is not based on self-inspection.
Earlier this month, Western diplomats told Reuters that inspectors from the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, would inspect the site in Parchin which would include the essential step of taking environmental samples.
It was therefore shocking when Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behruz Kamalvandi, told IRNA, the official news agency of Iran, “Iranian experts took samples from specific locations in Parchin facilities this week without IAEA’s inspectors being present.”
Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed this claim.
“We have not allowed any IAEA inspector into Parchin site to take samples or supervise our sampling; we have taken the samples by ourselves.They did not have any equipment even a mobile phone and their visit did not last for more than a few minutes,” Najafi told the Fars News Agency.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano visited the Parchin site on Sunday, the first time in ten years an official from outside Iran has been allowed into the military complex, despite numerous requests by Western powers who suspected it to be part of a nuclear weapons program. The site was the focus of recent concern when satellite photos showed construction taking place, raising suspicions of efforts to conceal past nuclear activity.
Amano did not say whether IAEA inspectors were present while the samples were collected, but he stressed that procedures were followed so that verification processes were “not compromised”. He did, however, admit that recent renovations at the Parchin site, “undermine the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification there”.
The site at Parchin is part of an agreement between the IAEA and Iran, and not connected to the nuclear agreement with the P5+1. The details of this IAEA agreement are confidential and have not been revealed, even to Secretary of State, JohnKerry, who led the US negotiations with Iran. As such, the recent inspection at Parchin was part of an ongoing investigation into Iran’s past nuclear program and not under the guidelines of the American agreement which pertains to ongoing nuclear activity.
Parchin has long been suspected of being part of a nuclear weapons program. In 2004, there were reports that a large explosives containment vessel had been built in Parchin to conduct hydrodynamic experiments. The IAEA says they are “strong indicators” of possible nuclear weapon development. The Iranian government maintains that the military complex is a test range for liquid-propellant missile engines.