Tuesday, 21 June 2016
The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive military base in Iran likely were tied to the regime’s past, covert nuclear weapons program, current and former U.S. officials have said.
Traces of man-made uranium were found at the Parchin facility, southeast of Tehran, by investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, as part of an investigation tied to the landmark nuclear deal reached last July between Iran’s regime and global powers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The particles were “physical evidence” to support the charge that the Iranian regime had been pursuing a bomb there, the report said.
The Obama administration didn’t comment about the uranium in December when the IAEA released its report; the finding got only one brief mention in the 16 pages. But in recent interviews, current and former U.S. officials asked about the uranium finding said the working assumption now is that it is tied to nuclear weapons development that Tehran is believed to have previously pursued.
Critics on Capitol Hill believe the Obama administration played down the extent of Tehran’s nuclear work to advance President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative.
The terms of the deal required Iran’s regime to address evidence amassed by the IAEA that showed Tehran’s military had a centralized program to build a nuclear weapon until at least 2003.
IAEA officials said in interviews that during its investigation, conducted from July through December, Iran’s regime didn’t allow the agency to interview top nuclear scientists believed to have overseen nuclear weapons development.
The mullahs’ regime did allow IAEA inspectors to collect soil samples from Parchin in October that were tested for the presence of nuclear materials. The agency found two particles of man-made uranium, despite what the IAEA said was a yearslong effort by Iran’s regime to sanitize Parchin by removing soil and infrastructure, according to U.N. and U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.
The man-made uranium found at Parchin, which has only low-levels of fissionable isotopes, can be used as a substitute for weapons-grade materials in developing atomic bombs, according to nuclear experts. It can also be used as component in a neutron initiator, a triggering device for a nuclear weapon.
Critics of the nuclear deal have cited the presence of uranium at Parchin as evidence the Obama administration didn’t go far enough in demanding Tehran answer all questions concerning its past nuclear work before lifting international sanctions in January. They also argue that it is hard to develop a comprehensive monitoring regime without knowing everything the regime has done.
Normally, the IAEA requires additional samples to be taken when there are irregularities found in their tests, such as the presence of man-made uranium, according to former agency officials and other nuclear experts. But under last year’s nuclear agreement, Tehran was only required to allow the IAEA’s inspectors to visit the Parchin facility once.
The IAEA declined to comment on any efforts to try to visit Parchin again, the WSJ report added.
In 2014 a lot of information surfaced about Tehran’s suspicious activities in Parchin, which was the scene of some high-explosive tests. The apparent experiments with exploding bridge wire were widely recognized as having potential applications to the detonation of a nuclear device. Those tests were carried out in the help of foreign nuclear experts, in a specially designed explosive chamber that subsequently disappeared. At a press conference In November 2014 in Washington, DC, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) unveiled intelligence provided by the main Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) with details on how the explosive chamber was built, where it was it built, etc.
But the greatest revelation in that press conference was that the MEK had uncovered details showing that two of those chambers had been manufactured, not one.
The two explosive chambers were apparently built in the early 2000s by the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
A major theme of the upcoming “Free Iran” gathering in Paris on July 9, 2016 will be to look back at the results of last summer’s nuclear deal with the mullahs’ regime.