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U.S. satellite photographs detail suspected nuclear weapons testing facilities at an Iranian military base outside Tehran, reports Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence news service.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security has released photographs of the Iranian military base at Parchin where nuclear weapons activities are suspected. The seven satellite images show buildings where nuclear weapons components are suspected of being prepared for testing.

Parchin is located about 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran. The Iranian government has asserted that the facility has long been used to test chemical explosives. The International Atomic Energy Agency has requested access to inspect the site operated by the Iranian Defense Industries Organization. Iran has not agreed to the request.

The U.S. institute, which retains leading nuclear experts and former officials, said Parchin could be converted to a nuclear weapons research and assembly facility. The institute said Parchin could also be used to test nuclear explosives and missile and rocket delivery systems.

On Sept. 21, Iran said it had begun converting 37 tons of raw uranium for enrichment by gas centrifuges. At the same time, Tehran displayed its enhanced Shahab-3 intermediate-range missile and launched the Shahab-2, with a range of 700 kilometers.

“This site is a logical candidate for a nuclear weapons-related site, particularly one involved in researching and developing high-explosive components for an impulsion-type nuclear weapon,” David Albright and Corey Hinderstein wrote in a study for the institute.

The satellite imagery shows a building that appears to have a pad for testing small rocket motors rather than high explosives. The photographs also reveal a nearby bunker that could test a mock nuclear weapon.

“The concern is that this bunker could be where Iran would test a full-scale mock-up of a nuclear explosive using natural or depleted uranium as a surrogate of a highly enriched uranium core,” Albright and Hinderstein stated.

The Parchin military complex, which contains hundreds of buildings and test sites, has focused on the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and high explosives. The U.S. institute has identified high-explosive testing facilities and the excavation of a hilly area that could be used for nuclear tests.

“Some facilities seem more suited to armaments research or rocket motor testing,” Albright and Hinderstein wrote. “Despite the ambiguity about the purpose of this site, the available evidence appears sufficient to warrant a request for a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency of this site.”


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