AP Exclusive: Iran may be cleaning up nuke work

GEORGE JAHN Associated Press Published:

VIENNA (AP) -- Satellite images of an Iranian military facility show trucks and earth-moving vehicles at the site, indicating that crews were trying to clean it of radioactive traces possibly left by tests of a nuclear-weapon trigger, diplomats told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Two of the diplomats said the crews may be trying to erase evidence of tests of a small neutron device used to set off a nuclear explosion. A third diplomat could not confirm that but said any attempt to trigger a so-called neutron initiator at the Parchin site could only be in the context of trying to develop nuclear arms.

The images, provided to the IAEA by member countries, are recent and constantly updated, said one of the diplomats.

The diplomats are nuclear experts accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and all asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

Iran is under growing international pressure over its nuclear program, which it insists is peaceful. Israel has warned that it may resort to a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent Tehran from obtaining atomic weapons.

The IAEA has already identified the Parchin military site as the location of suspected nuclear weapons-related testing. In a November report, it said it appeared to be the site of experiments with conventional high explosives meant to initiate a nuclear chain reaction.

It did not mention a neutron initiator as part of those tests but in a separate section cited an unnamed member nation as saying Iran may have experimented with a neutron initiator, without going into detail or naming a location for such work.

In contrast, the intelligence information shared with the AP by the two diplomats linked the high-explosives work directly to setting off a neutron initiator at Parchin.