Sunday, April 09, 2006

Fire Breaks out Adjacent to Nuclear Facilities as IAEA Inspectors in Tehran

A fire broke out in a forest north of Tehran on Saturday, not far from an area intelligence agencies suspected illegal nuclear activity. It took firefighters some seven hours to contain the blaze.

A previous fire in the same forest occurred after Tehran municipality workers chopped town trees in the area, after which arsons set a fire. Analysts believe that the two fires may be linked and that they were set by intelligence officers or members of the Iranian Atomic Energy Committee, so that remnants of various materials, mainly enriched uranium, would not be detected.

There had been a military base in the vicinity of Lavizan, near where the fire raged, where, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, uranium had been enriched. The information was transferred to the International Atomic Energy Agency six months ago, and the United Nations nuclear watchdog called for inspections at the site. The Iranian government rejected the request, only allowing IAEA inspectors to visit after significant changes had been implemented.

The changes are visible in satellite images, which indicate that the Iranians destroyed the military base and built a soccer stadium and other sports facilities in the area. Constructing the stadium provided an excuse for overturning and replacing the soil in the area, so that if samples were to be taken, remnants of illegal materials would not be detected.