May 31, 2012 / 8:42 AM / 5 years ago

Factbox: Iran's Parchin military site

(Reuters) - A U.S. security institute has published satellite images which it says suggest Iran may be trying to destroy evidence of research relevant to a nuclear weapons programme at the Parchin military facility.

* ACCESS:

- U.N. inspectors visited Parchin in 2005. Environmental samples taken turned up no enriched uranium particles that might have pointed to undeclared nuclear work. But the inspectors did not see the part of the installation where the IAEA now believes an explosives chamber was built.

- Iran refused further access to the complex during two rounds of talks with a senior IAEA team this year, maintaining Parchin is a purely conventional military site outside the writ of the IAEA.

- Tehran then suggested access could be granted but only after a broader agreement is reached on how to address all outstanding issues between Tehran and the IAEA. Western diplomats said that stance was a stalling tactic.

- IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited Tehran last week but no agreements were finalized.

* DESCRIPTION OF PARCHIN:

- Parchin first came to international attention in August 2004 when a Washington think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, said satellite images showed it might be a site for research and testing applicable to nuclear weapons.

- The complex 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Tehran is owned by Iran’s Defence Industries Organisation and has hundreds of buildings and test sites. It is dedicated to research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and high explosives.

- A 2011 IAEA report said Iran had built a large containment chamber at Parchin. The explosives vessel, or chamber, is said to have been put in place at the site in 2000.

- The IAEA subsequently cited information indicating the chamber was designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kg of high explosives.

- ISIS said earlier this month it had acquired commercial satellite imagery of the site showing new activity outside the building suspected to contain the explosive chamber as well as items lined up outside the structure. It also showed what seemed to be a stream of water emanating from or near the building.

- New satellite imagery obtained by ISIS on May 25 shows what appears to be further sanitization activity at the site. DigitalGlobe satellite imagery has shown two small buildings at the same site as the suspected testing chamber have been razed. There are visible tracks believed to have been made by heavy machinery used in the demolition process.

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