Israeli Satellite Firm Reports ‘Unusual’ Activity At Iran Nuclear Site
Israeli satellite firm reports ‘unusual’ activity at Iran nuclear site
Images of Fordo show full parking lot, open gates to ‘uranium enrichment tunnels,’ but no indication of illicit activity
An Israeli satellite imaging company on Thursday released images showing what it described as “unusual” movement around the Iranian Fordo nuclear facility, a one-time uranium enrichment plant buried deep underground that was converted to a research center as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The photographs, which show large numbers of vehicles at the entrance to the facility and other signs of increased activity there, do not in themselves indicate any violation of the nuclear accord, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
The fate of the highly contentious nuclear agreement lies in the balance, with US President Donald Trump set to decide whether or not America will remain party to it ahead of a May 12 deadline.
The underground site, which has been protected by the powerful S-300 air defense system since 2016, was not shuttered as part of the accord, but the types of activities allowed there were heavily curtailed.
Barring a massive, heretofore undetected effort by Iran to bring Fordo back online in violation of the JCPOA, the increased activity could likely be attributed to an attempt by the Islamic Republic to imply that it is prepared to begin enriching uranium at the site if the US pulls out of the agreement.
As part of the JCPOA, Iran was forced to limit the number of centrifuges allowed inside Fordo to 1,044, which would be kept in only one wing of the facility, and agreed that it “will not conduct any uranium enrichment or any uranium enrichment related [research and development] and will have no nuclear material at the Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) for 15 years.”
The pictures of the Fordo plant, which were taken on April 29, were released by ImageSat International, a satellite imagery analysis firm based out of Or Yehuda in central Israel. The company is largely run by former members of the Israeli Air Force
One satellite photograph showed cars and buses filling the Fordo facility’s parking lot. ImageSat said it “has not detected any large presence of private vehicles nor buses” in recent months.
The firm provided a second image from July 8, 2016, in which no vehicles are visible. However, an aerial photograph from April 2, 2016, shows at least 10 cars and two buses in the facility’s parking lot.
Source: Israeli Satellite Firm Reports ‘Unusual’ Activity At Iran Nuclear Site