July 31, 2012
Iran's Denial and Deception at Parchin
The Iranian regime’s refusal to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to certain nuclear-related facilities and personnel is one element of a broader denial-and-deception campaign intended to obscure its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. Parchin, a large military complex, is one facility where Iran, according to information assessed by the IAEA, conducted weaponization work in pursuit of that capability. The IAEA adduced in its November 2011 report information on Iran’s hydrodynamic experimentation at Parchin after 2000. Hydrodynamic experiments mimic the initial stages of a nuclear explosion using fissile material substitutes and can help test the validity of a nuclear weapon design. The IAEA has sought access to a site within Parchin where an explosives containment vessel was used for these experiments. Iran has refused on multiple occasions to grant inspectors access to the site and, moreover, has spent the last several months physically deconstructing and transforming the site.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) first identified this area in March 2012 as the site housing the explosives chamber used for hydrodynamic experiments. Imagery published by ISIS in the last few months showed the deployment of machinery to the site and other indications of sanitization. The most recent commercial satellite imagery of the site obtained by AEI's Critical Threats Project, taken on July 25, 2012, appears to show the end result of months of physical disruption of the site. The building believed to have housed the explosives chamber remains standing; however, nearby buildings have been demolished or tampered with, the roads connecting various buildings have been razed, a perimeter security fence has been removed, and machinery and debris have been redeployed from the site.