New satellite images indicate Iran may be trying to scrub evidence of its activities at one of its most controversial military sites ahead of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection in the fall.
Recent photographs of the Parchin military complex – long believed by intelligence experts to be the site of Iranian nuclear weapons experiments – shows an increase in activity since the nuclear deal was signed.
“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,” according to Bloomberg View.
“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.”
The IAEA and Iran have negotiated a secret “side deal” regarding the past military dimensions of the nation’s nuclear program. The deal requires Iran to give the IAEA access to Parchin no later than October 15. The two side deals have become one of the points of contention among members of Congress, who have 60 days to review the Iranian nuclear deal.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has introduced legislation for the clock not to start on review of the Iran deal until Congress has knowledge of what the side deals entail.
Regarding the new satellite imagery, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said on Tuesday: “I am familiar with it. 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.”
A senior intelligence official, when asked about the satellite imagery, told Bloomberg View that 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.”
Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that the United States has “absolute knowledge” about what Iran has done in the past, but lawmakers lack that confidence.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said on Tuesday that Iran’s apparent activity at Parchin may not technically be a violation of the overall deal, but calls into question how forthright the nation will be in revealing the full extent of its past nuclear activities.
“The intel briefing [from the Obama administration regarding Parchin] was troubling to me…some of the things that are happening, especially happening in such a blatant way,” he said. “Iran is going to know that we know.”
Democratic Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday that what Iran is doing at Parchin is one of the reasons he is undecided on the overall deal.
“I have concerns about the vigorous efforts by Iran to sanitize Parchin,” he stated. “I’ve gotten some reassurance about how difficult it is for them to effectively conceal what we know to have been their illicit nuclear weapons developments there.”
As reported by Western Journalism, Congress has 60 days to review the deal, with a vote anticipated in September. The Republican majority is expected to reject it, but will need 44 Democrats in the House and 13 in the Senate to override President Obama’s promised veto.
Some Democrats in the House and Senate have already come out against the deal, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), who is slated to be the party’s next senate leader and is perhaps the most prominent Jewish-American lawmaker. Fellow Jewish Democrat Reps. Eliot Engel, Steve Israel, Nita Lowey (all from New York), and Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.) have also said they oppose the deal. Additionally, Democrat Reps. Juan Vargas (Ca.) and Grace Meng (N.Y.) will vote against it.
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Americans oppose the deal by a margin of 2-to-1 (57-28 percent). It garners lukewarm support from Democrats (52 percent for to 32 opposed) and strong opposition from Republicans (86 to 3 percent) and independent voters (55 to 29 percent).
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth