(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
John Kirby

Parchin site Iran

2004 satellite image of the Parchin military complex, suspected of hosting nuclear facilities. (AP/DigitalGlobe-Institute for Science and International Security)

The Obama administration seems to be changing its story regarding the deal with Iran. Contrary to earlier statements, it now says the Parchin military site is not nuclear. 

The US State Department is now claiming that Iran’s Parchin nuclear site is a “conventional” military facility, marking a departure from their previous statements that the military base hosts illicit nuclear activities, Iran’s Press TV reported.

“I think it’s important to remember that when you’re talking about a site like Parchin, you’re talking about a conventional military site, not a nuclear site,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a daily press briefing in Washington on Thursday.

“So there wouldn’t be any IAEA [the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency] or other restrictions on new construction at that site were they to occur,” he added.

The US official’s remarks came in response to a question about an earlier report by the IAEA, which is tasked with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, about the construction of “a small extension to an existing building” at Parchin.

“Since [our] previous report [in May], at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency [IAEA] has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building appears to have been constructed,” the IAEA report said in its most recent update on Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday.

“The activities that have taken place at this location since February 2012 are likely to have undermined the agency’s ability to conduct effective verification,” the IAEA stressed.

Kirby’s remarks mark a deviation from past claims in the US about Parchin.

Western intelligence agencies say Iran used the site for explosives tests and other experiments related to the development of nuclear weapons.

Director General of IAEA Yukiya Amano

Director General of IAEA Yukiya Amano. (AP/Ronald Zak)

Iran has repeatedly denied Western allegations about nuclear activity at the site.

This latest statement comes after AP revealed earlier this month an unusual secret agreement between Tehran and the UN agency that will allow Iran to use its own experts to inspect a site allegedly used to develop nuclear arms.

It allows Tehran to take its own environmental samples from the site and provide videos and photos of their choosing to the agency, “taking into account [Iran’s] military concerns.”

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has said the arrangements are “technically sound” and consistent with long-established practices.

The revelation roiled critics who say that the deal with Iran is built on trust.

The investigation of the Parchin military site by the IAEA is linked to a broader probe of nuclear weapons allegations against Iran.

By: United with Israel Staff
AP contributed to this report.

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