Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Incident at Parchin, Iran

NYTimes: “Enormous orange flash” seen around suspected nuclear site as mysterious explosion rocks one of world’s largest cities
- US Gov’t: We are “monitoring the situation closely” 
- Reports: Windows broken 9 miles away, all trees burned over large area

A 2012 satellite photo of the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, Iran. (Institute for Science and International Security)

6 October, 2014

Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran’s official news agency) Oct 6, 2014: Fire at explosives factory in eastern Tehran — Defense Industries Organization reported on Monday that fire broke out in an explosives producing factory in eastern Tehran [23rd most populated urban area in world]… Two workers were killed…

Wall St. Journal, Oct 6, 2014: U.S. officials said Monday that they are closely monitoring developments at or near a military complex outside Tehran… officials have long been concerned that Iran’s Parchin military complex played a role in what they charge was the government’s effort to develop nuclear weapons. .. “We are aware of reports of an explosion at or near the Parchin military facility in Iran,” said [National Security Council spokeswoman] Bernadette Meehan… The NSC [said] officials “are monitoring the situation closely.”

New York Times, Oct 6, 2014: A mysterious explosion at or near an important military complex rocked the Iranian capital on Sunday, lighting up the skies over the city. Iranian official sources denied the explosion had taken place at the complex… the enormous orange flash that illuminated Tehran… clearly came from that direction, several witnesses said. Officials at Iran’s Defense Industries Organization [confirmed] “an ordinary fire” caused by “chemical reactions”… Witnesses [said] all trees in a hundred-yard radius of two villages… had been burned… [IAEA] Inspectors… were given access to Parchin in 2005, but they have since been refused follow-up inspections. The agency is still seeking access to the site, where it suspects Iran of having conducted high-explosive experiments related to nuclear weapon research…

USA Today, Oct 6, 2014: Blast kills 2 at suspected Iranian nuclear site… Sahamnews described the incident as an explosion near Parchin that shattered windows 9 miles away… [IAEA] has sought access to the Parchin military complex… since it was provided documents that described alleged nuclear detonator tests at the site… investigators described “a large explosive containment vessel” at the site… according to a confidential report obtained by [AP]…

The Atlantic, Oct 6, 2014: The timing and location… should raise more than a few questions… late last month, Israel accused Iran of conducting nuclear implosion tests at [Parchin]… Miraculously enough, on Monday, reports broke about an incident that took place at or near the Parchin site… It’s widely believed that the United States and Israel have engaged in a heavy regimen of sabotage against the suspected Iranian nuclear program including… computer viruses, the assassination of nuclear scientists, and a series of mysterious explosions… This development comes just hours before Iran and the [IAEA] were reportedly set to meet in Tehran… If the episode in Iran is some kind of sub-rosa attack, the timing couldn’t be better.

Watch video from today: IAEA team to meet in Tehran on Tuesday

There Was A Suspicious Explosion At One Of Iran's Most Secretive Alleged Nuclear Facilities

7 November, 2014

There’s been a mysterious and possibly deadly explosion at an Iranian facility that the US and international monitors believe was once used to test nuclear weapons components — and that Tehran has barred International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from visiting.

According to the New York Times, an explosion at the Parchin military installation caused an “enormous orange flash that illuminated Tehran.” Iranian officials “confirmed that two people were missing after ‘an ordinary fire’ caused by ‘chemical reactions of flammable material,’” according to the Times account.
But this is hardly the only suspicious explosion to hit a sensitive Iranian military facility, and it’s unlikely that Iran would admit to an act of sabotage. In 2011, the architect of Iran’s ballistic missile program was killed in a suspicious blast. And there have been several assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in recent years, killings that have been blamed on both Israel and the Mujahideen el-Khalk, an anti-regime militant group.
And Parchin was apparently home to infrastructure needed to develop ballistic triggers for a uranium-based nuclear detonation, work that apparently took place at the facility prior to 2004 when these activities were discovered and made public by the US and international regulators.
Iran is currently barring international inspectors from visiting Parchin. It’s a place of potential significance to Iran’s nuclear program; if today’s explosion was in fact an assassination it would suggest that some kind of sensitive work is still going on there. The question is what that work could be — and what Parchin’s significance might be to a nuclear program whose final status is still being negotiated by Iran, the US, and its international partners.
According to David Albright, a physicist and the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, Parchin has some of the most sophisticated ballistics technology in Iran, including slow-motion diagnostic cameras needed for the close analysis of projectiles and explosives. Parchin is the only place in Iran known to have these research and development capabilities — which means that if Iran were still trying to develop a trigger for a future nuclear device, it would be doing it either at Parchin or at some other, as-et undiscovered complex.
It’s the logical place for it to occur because you need special facilities to handle high explosives, bunkers to store them, diagnostic equipment to analyse the experiments … and it’s not easy to create that infrastructure,” Albright told Business Insider. Parchin might even have a high-explosives chamber where Iranian researchers may once have been planning to test a mock-up of an atomic bomb, Albright explained.
But proof of any of these activities ceased years ago, according to Albright. The ban on IAEA inspectors aside, he thinks it’s unlikely that Iran is continuing with the kind of research and development it was performing at Parchin before the US and others went public with their suspicions of the facility’s purpose in 2004.
That doesn’t mean the site isn’t of interest to potential saboteurs or international inspectors, though. “The people there may have had some significance. People who worked in these alleged activities may still be there. and some of the buildings are still there.”
Understanding Iran’s capabilities at Parchin is impossible without the site being opened to inspectors, Albright says. “You need an Iranian decision to cooperate to really understand these activities,” he says. “They’re very small-scale and really hard to detect.”

If yesterday’s explosion was sabotage, at least player in the Iranian nuclear drama is still deeply suspicious of whatever’s still going on there

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