Another Vanishing Trick

The most secret section of the latest report the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director Mohammed ElBaradai has drafted on Iran’s nuclear program is also the most embarrassing for the international nuclear watchdog. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources reveal exclusively that, when inspectors arrived in Iran in mid-May and asked to revisit installations they saw in February or April, they were astonished to find empty spaces. When they questioned their Iranian escorts, they were greeted with blank stares. “What installations?” the officials asked.

The inspectors pulled out photos from previous visits and showed the Iranian officials what had been there before. The Iranians dismissed them as having been shot in other places that looked the same – or grafted there by “hostile intelligence bodies.”

When the inspectors persevered and reported the existence of aerial photos showing the exact location of the missing facilities, the Iranians shrugged.

The amazing fact is that the Iranians had dismantled and swept away all the structures containing incriminating evidence of continuing uranium enrichment for weapons production so completely that there was no sign a building had ever stood there. The fresh flowerbeds were still in the same places as before but the lawns had been extended to cover the sites, most probably with thick layers of earth. All the inspectors could do was to remove soil samples and take them away.

According to our sources, US officials involved in the Iranian nuclear issue have no doubt that the installations were not destroyed but removed to secret subterranean sites probably built under military bases scattered around the country and that the Iranians are industriously advancing their forbidden programs.

However, so as not to give the game away, they have discontinued work on uranium enrichment.

The ElBaradei report does not specify the locations over which the broad lawns have been planted. Our sources report at least five, including Nantaz, Arak and Tehran.

After diplomatic consultations, the US and the German, British and French governments reached the same conclusion: Tehran’s costly and elaborate exercise in deception attests to its bad faith on nuclear weapons development. However, as we have reported before, the Bush administration is holding off direct action on the issue until after the presidential election on November 4. Only then, will Washington bring the case before the UN Security Council.

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