It’s shit like this LA Times report on activity at Iran’s Parchin site that gives me heartburn.
A flurry of recent activity at an Iranian military compound, spotted on commercial satellite photos, has raised concern that Iran may be “cleansing” a building before nuclear inspectors can examine it, said an analysis by a Washington-based security institute.
Satellite photos taken in April show unknown objects lined up outside a Parchin building and a stream of water emanating from or near it, suggesting that Iranian officials may be trying to clean the building of nuclear traces, the Institute for Science and International Security wrote on its website Tuesday. The building is suspected of holding an explosives chamber used in nuclear experiments.
To clean it, Iran might try to grind down surfaces or equipment, creating dust that would then be washed away, said Paul Brannan, a senior analyst with the institute. The goal would be to defeat environmental testing by inspectors if they were allowed to visit the site.
Nothing like this has been seen in satellite shots of the Parchin building going back months or even years, Brannan said. “All of a sudden we see this activity after the IAEA says they’re interested in visiting this site,” the analyst said.
Three things here:
1) ISIS’ analysis relies on “correlation as causation” – the logical fallacy that two things that happen near each other are obviously connected. It’s not even a good example of the fallacy. The IAEA has been trying to get access to Parchin for a lot longer than just the last month so these activities, if they are a “clean up: are belated in the extreme. I.e. they’re being done while everyone with access to satellite images is now watching, instead of six months ago. Doesn’t seem very clever of the “perfidious Persians” to me, but shit, I’m just a blogger.
2) The LA Times writer compounds the level of disinformation exponentially by adding the word “nuclear” where it is unwarranted, in the phrase “suggesting that Iranian officials may be trying to clean the building of nuclear traces”. Even if the building at Parchin is a testbed for explosive shells designed to implode a fissile core to critical mass the last thing anyone would want to do is use actual nuclear materials in that testing and risk the shell working, leading to at best a “damp squib” atomic explosion in the sub-kiloton range and a whole lot of radiation. Shit, I’m just a blogger and I know that. No, the traces that might be looked for would be traces of the explosives themselves and ISIS at least has the sense not to actually mention “nuclear traces” on it’s own page at all.
3) The very last sentence of the LA Times piece stands the whole of the rest on its head:
If Iran is indeed trying to clean up the building to avoid detection when inspectors arrive, it is unlikely to work, said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Assn. “It only takes a few atoms of these trace materials to show up around the sites,” Kimball said.
The place to look now is in the trail left by the water flushing, if that’s what it is. But that’s so obvious and the chances of escapong detection so small that instead it might be more efficient to wonder why David Albright and ISIS have a hatchet out for Iran and are passing such shoddy analysis to reporters. That’s the real story, going back years. But shit, I’m just a blogger – what do I know?