Reuters: New satellite images show Iran's Parchin military complex, southeast of Tehran, may be a site for research, testing and production of nuclear weapons, a nuclear expert said on Wednesday.
David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, a think tank, released an analysis of the photos and told Reuters they show the site "has a potential that would warrant (U.N. inspectors) going there" to determine the exact nature of the operation. Reuters

By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent

WASHINGTON - New satellite images show Iran's Parchin military complex, southeast of Tehran, may be a site for research, testing and production of nuclear weapons, a nuclear expert said on Wednesday.

David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, a think tank, released an analysis of the photos and told Reuters they show the site "has a potential that would warrant (U.N. inspectors) going there" to determine the exact nature of the operation.

"Based on a review of overhead imagery of this site ... (it) is a logical candidate for a nuclear weapons-related site, particularly one involved in researching and developing high explosive components for an implosion-type nuclear weapon," he added in an analysis posted on the ISIS Web site.

The actual satellite photos were also shown by ABC Television on Wednesday's "Nightly News."

The United States has long accused Iran of aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapons program but Tehran insists its efforts are aimed at developing peaceful nuclear energy.

In his Web site analysis, Albright, a physicist who has worked as a weapons inspector, said:

"The evidence that this (Parchin military) site is conducting nuclear weapons work is ambiguous" and "some facilities (in the complex) seem more suited to armaments research or rocket motor testing."

But he told ABC: "It's the first case where we're looking at a set of facilities that could be used in making the nuclear weapon itself."

Albright told Reuters that the U.N. watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, asked Iranian officials if its inspectors could visit the site but the request was ignored by Tehran.

He said he hoped the publicity generated by release of the satellite photos would increase pressure on Iran to let IAEA inspectors into the site.

Albright said the Parchin complex is owned by Iran's military industry and has hundreds of buildings and test sites.

"Within this larger complex, there is an isolated separately secured site which may be involved in developing nuclear weapons," the analysis on his Web site reported.

After hiding its nuclear activities for 18 years, Iran last year promised France, Britain and Germany it would fully suspend enrichment as a confidence building measure, along with all related activities.

Although Iran has not carried out enrichment, it has annoyed the Europeans by continuing to build centrifuges designed for that purpose.

In Vienna on Wednesday, U.S. and European negotiators moved closer to a deal on a resolution on Iran's nuclear program that could trigger a November showdown.

Diplomats said the negotiators haggled over the wording of the latest draft that would set an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to eliminate fears it has a covert atom bomb program.