Washington: A US nonproliferation think tank on Thursday published commercial satellite images of an Iranian military site linked to suspected secret work on nuclear arms, saying they show that two buildings there were demolished as well as other activities that strengthen UN suspicions of a cleanup.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security provides consultancy services for US government agencies focused on nonproliferation and is considered an objective source of information on Iran`s nuclear programme.
A senior diplomat who saw the photos displayed on the think tank`s website and who is accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency told The Associated Press they showed apparent cleanup work similar to that depicted on spy satellite photos supplied to the IAEA by member nations closely tracking Iran`s nuclear activities.
He demanded anonymity because his information was confidential.
The postings of the photos come a day after the IAEA showed what the senior diplomat said were similar images made available separately to the agency`s 35-member nation board. Asked about the allegations afterward, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran`s chief IAEA delegate, dismissed them as "baseless."
The IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, named the Parchin military installation late last year as the site of suspected tests of high explosives designed to set off a nuclear charge.
Since then it has asked repeatedly for access, only to be rebuffed by Iran.
Parchin is only one link in what the IAEA says is a chain of evidence suggesting Tehran conducted extensive nuclear weapons research and development -- something the Islamic Republic strenuously denies. But visiting Parchin became a top priority after satellite images revealed the start of apparent cleanup work there shortly after the IAEA`s initial access request.
The IAEA expressed its latest concerns last week. Its Iran report noted that -- while satellite photos had over past years shown "virtually no activity" at the site -- "the buildings of interest to the agency are now subject to extensive activities that could hamper the agency`s ability to undertake effective verification."
ISIS said on its website that the commercial satellite imagery from May 25 "shows that two small buildings at the same site as the suspected testing chamber have been completely razed."