It starts: US intel warns Congress Iran is sanitizing Parchin in broad daylightsanitizing' its Parchin facility outside Tehran where Western countries are virtually certain it has carried out nuclear weapons development activity in the past. The 'sanitizing,' which is being carried out in broad daylight, is apparently a last-ditch effort by Tehran to thwart the ability of IAEA inspectors to reconstruct the extent of the PMD's (possibly military dimensions) of Iran's nuclear program at Parchin. This is from Eli Lake and Josh Rogin.
Intelligence officials and lawmakers who have seen the new evidence, which is still classified, told us that 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.
The intelligence community shared its findings with lawmakers and some Congressional staff late last week, four people who have seen the evidence told us. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefed lawmakers about the evidence Monday, three U.S. senators said.
“I am familiar with it,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr told us Tuesday. “I think it’s up to the administration to draw their conclusions. Hopefully this is something they will speak on, since it is in many ways verified by commercial imagery. And their actions seem to be against the grain of the agreement.”
Burr said Iran’s activities at Parchin complicate the work of the IAEA inspectors who are set to examine the site in the coming months. IAEA's director general, Yukiya Amano, was in Washington on Wednesday to brief lawmakers behind closed doors about the side agreements.
“They 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,” Burr said. “I think it’s a huge concern.”The Obama administration is already spinning.
A senior intelligence official, when asked about the satellite imagery, told us the IAEA was also familiar with what he called "sanitization efforts" since the deal was reached in Vienna, but that the U.S. government and its allies had confidence that the IAEA had the technical means to detect past nuclear work anyway.
Another administration official explained that this was in part because any trace amounts of enriched uranium could not be fully removed between now and Oct. 15, the deadline for Iran to grant access and answer remaining questions from the IAEA about Parchin.So what? I'm not a nuclear expert, but couldn't removing soil or destroying buildings result in the uranium concentration in the area being lower? Not to mention....
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told us Tuesday that while Iran’s activity at Parchin last month isn’t technically a violation of the agreement it signed with the U.S. and other powers, it does call into question Iran’s intention to be forthright about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.Did anyone ever expect them to be forthright about this? It's kind of like....
Several senior lawmakers, including Democrats, are concerned that Iran will be able to collect its own soil samples at Parchin with only limited supervision, a practice several lawmakers have compared to giving suspected drug users the benefit of the doubt to submit specimens unsupervised. Iran’s sanitization of the site further complicates that verification.Yeah. If this goes through, I think the Obama administration should advocate for Tom Brady being able to choose which footballs to let the NFL examine after each game.
David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, obtained a commercially available image of the Parchin site taken by satellites on July 26 that shows renewed activity at the Parchin site. He told us there are two new large vehicles, alterations ongoing to roofs of two of the buildings and new structures near two of the buildings.
“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,” he said. “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.”After all, if you can't trust a country whose motto is 'death to America, death to Israel,' who can you trust?
Meanwhile, for the Obama administration, all is going according to plan.
Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the U.S. government has “absolute knowledge” about what Iran has done in the past. Ahead of the vote on the agreement next month, many lawmakers don't share Kerry's confidence. Iran would seem to have its doubts as well, since it's still trying to cover its tracks.What could go wrong?