AP: A dissident group accused Iran on Wednesday of deceiving U.N. nuclear inspectors by purposely keeping them away from what it said was a secret underground uranium enrichment facility during a recent tour of a restricted military site.
By GEORGE JAHN
Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria (AP) – A dissident group accused Iran on Wednesday of deceiving U.N. nuclear inspectors by purposely keeping them away from what it said was a secret underground uranium enrichment facility during a recent tour of a restricted military site.
“The mullahs managed to take the IAEA inspectors for a big ride,” said Ali Safavi, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. He said the inspectors were shown a non-nuclear military site in the north of the 10-kilometer (6-mile) -long Parchin complex that was furthest away from the enrichment facility in the far south of the area.
He said officials had recently lined the walls of the tunnels with lead to contain radioactivity and avoid detection of enrichment – a possible pathway to nuclear arms.
The group – the political arm of the Mujahedeen Khalq, a group that Washington and the European Union list as a terrorist organization – has a mixed record of accuracy.
Three years ago it disclosed information about two hidden nuclear sites that helped uncover nearly two decades of covert Iranian atomic activity and sparked present fears that Tehran wants to build a bomb. But most of the information it has presented since then to back up claims that Iran has a secret weapons program has not been publicly verified.
Safavi cited unnamed “highly placed sources within the Iranian government” for his information.
In an effort to blunt chances of referral to the U.N. Security Council – which could impose sanctions – Iran recently allowed IAEA inspectors to revisit the Parchin military site, about 35 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Tehran.
Initial results of environmental samples from the site have shown no trace of radiation but IAEA officials have said further results are needed to reach a conclusion. U.S. officials say the site may be part of Iran’s nuclear arms research program.
The IAEA usually picks the areas within a site that it is to visit. Officials at the Vienna-based nuclear monitoring agency declined comment on the allegations that IAEA inspectors were misled, shown something they did not want to see, or were unaware of an active laser enrichment program.