|Iran's Parchin complex, in a Google Maps 2012 aerial view: 40 square |
kilometers of secret military facilities dedicated to explosives,
scattered across the desert and mountains [Image Source]
A fire and explosion at a military explosives facility near the Iranian capital Tehran has left at least two people dead, reports say. The semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (Isna) said the fire was in an "explosive materials production unit". A pro-opposition website reported a huge blast near the Parchin military site, south-east of the capital, but this was not confirmed. Parchin has been linked to Iran's controversial nuclear programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not been given access to the complex since 2005. Analysts say the IAEA suspects Iran of experimenting with explosives capable of triggering a nuclear weapon at Parchin.Times of Israel, quoting Iranian sources, says "the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky." As we said, something serious.
Two and a half years ago, we posted here ["29-Feb-12: Atomic energy agency says today Iran is hiding something "very concerning""] about the rising tone of reports emanating from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, which had
told diplomats today in a three-hour long closed-door briefing in Vienna that they are "very concerned" about what is going on at Iran's Parchin military facility. The IAEA's request to visit the site, which has been flatly refused by the Tehran regime, is now more urgent. Chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said the U.N. agency was monitoring the site, southeast of Tehran, via satellite imaging. A Western diplomat who participated today is quoted saying "It is very clear that Iran doesn't want the agency to go to Parchin because it has something to hide". What might that be?Our post goes on:
Last November , the agency reported that there was “a large explosives containment vessel” at Parchin for large-scale conventional explosives tests consistent with designing a nuclear warhead for Iran's Shahab-3 ballistic missiles.Soon afterwards, in March 2012, we wrote about how the IAEA was getting blunter in its messaging, having reached the stage where it was ready to say that on nuclear weapons development "Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation".
And exactly a month ago, while reviewing how the Obama Administration was acting and talking in the face of Iranian stonewalling ["06-Sep-14: Iran, US and opening up a new path toward a more secure world: how well is that going?"], we took a closer look at the Parchin weapons complex, and asked:
Are we closer to achieving supervision and control of Iran's no-longer-so-secret nuclear weapon ambitions? Or further away? ...We wrote then that
Parchin is key to the whole matter: it's the Iranian military complex 30 kilometres southeast of Tehran covering some 40 square kilometres of desert and mountains with "hundreds of buildings and test sites" that are "dedicated to research, development, and production of ammunition, rockets, and high explosives... The IAEA continues to call on Iran to grant inspectors access to the site, although as of the spring of 2013, Iran had refused IAEA access while continuing to reconstruct the site. " [Source: ISIS]The IAEA has a new delegation arriving in Teheran this evening about the time that we write these words, according to an official FARS Newsagency report. (But it has no mention about today's explosion.) Anyone think they're going to get to clarity on these cloudy and increasingly dangerous issues?