Iranian nuclear experts have taken environmental samples from the regime’s secretive Parchin military base without United Nations inspectors being present, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency was quoted as saying on Monday.
The move is likely to increase concerns over the verification process outlined in July’s nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 world powers, as it contradicts the assertion by Western diplomats that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would observe samples being taken.
The procedure for taking the samples has been under intense discussion since the nuclear deal was reached in July, and the verification is fundamental to establishing whether Iran’s nuclear programme has or ever did contain military dimensions.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano visited the site at Parchin on Sunday, the agency’s first visit there in a decade. Iranian state media described the visit as ceremonial rather than an inspection.
Critics of the deal have expressed concerns that the accord does not include sufficient mechanisms to ensure Iranian compliance to verification. Experts have said that the request mechanism outlined by the framework for IAEA access to nuclear and military facilities gives major leeway to Iran to delay and stonewall inspections. Furthermore, permission to visit suspicious sites could take far longer to arrange than the complex 24-day approval process.
It was also reported that the commander of Iran’s army said on Tuesday that it would destroy Israel at all costs. Commander Ataollah Salehi was quoted by the Iranian FARS news agency as saying: “Israel only barks, no matter how much weapons are given to [it], we are going to destroy them, we will promise this task will be done”.
This is far from the first time comments inciting for the destruction of Israel have been made by Iranian officials. Earlier this month, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared that Israel would ‘cease to exist in 25 years time’ during a speech this week to supporters in Tehran, and on his official Twitter page. Last year, Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted out a nine-point plan of “key questions about the elimination of Israel”.