By Pam Benson
Recent satellite photos show continued activity at a controversial Iranian military site that international weapons inspectors have repeatedly been denied access to, according to a Washington-based think tank.
The Institute for Science and International Study obtained imagery from DigitalGlobe taken on November 7 that the institute says shows changes in the roofs on two key buildings at the Parchin Military Complex. ISIS also pointed out there is a new addition on the building suspected of containing a high-explosives chamber and piles of dirt not seen in an image taken on September 19.
ISIS said the imagery indicates additional changes will be made to the site, making it more difficult for the international inspectors.
"The considerable amount of new materials, equipment, and rows of earth piles suggest that further construction will be taking place, thus increasing the level of alteration and further degrading the chance of obtaining reliable environmental samples if and when (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors gain access to the site," ISIS stated.
Since January, the IAEA has been seeking access to the site, where it suspects Iran may have conducted high-explosives tests related to the development of nuclear weapons. Iran denies that Parchin has any role in its nuclear program.
The latest IAEA report on Iran released earlier this month said the "extensive activities" at the Parchin site are certain to have "seriously undermined" the agency's verification process.
Those activities include "significant ground scraping and landscaping" with new dirt roads.
By Elise Labott
Israeli officials were telling CNN's Security Clearance just a month ago that the United States and Israel were cooperating closely on intelligence sharing over Iran.
The latest U.S. assessment gave the two countries their closest understanding yet of the scope and pace of the development of the Iranian effort, the Israelis said.
But the close cooperation belies a heated policy debate – one becoming more public – about when military action would be required to take out the nuclear program.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is displaying growing impatience with what he says is a lack of clarity by the Obama administration on so-called "red lines" that Iran cannot cross if it wants to avoid war.
By Tim Lister
The satellite image shows large pink tarpaulins pulled across two buildings. Close by, it appears that topsoil has been moved and a security fence taken down. The image, taken earlier this week and provided to CNN by DigitalGlobe, is of an Iranian military facility at Parchin, one widely suspected by Western diplomats as a secret part of the country’s nuclear program.
It’s one of several developments on Iran’s nuclear program that worry experts - others being: the failure of another round of talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iranian officials; reports that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges enriching uranium; and a drumbeat of warnings from Israel that diplomacy and sanctions aren’t working.
By Pam Benson
Recent satellite imagery shows Iran continues to clean up areas of a controversial military site believed to be involved in its nuclear program, according to analysis of the images by a Washington-based think tank.
The Institute for Science and International Study obtained imagery from GeoEye taken on June 7 that shows heavy machinery tracks and earth displacement consistent with a cleanup effort at the Parchin Military Complex, according to the institute's analysis.
GeoEye is a commercial satellite imaging company.
Editor's note: Watch Elise Labott's interview with Shimon Peres at 1pET on CNN's Newsroom with Suzanne Malveaux
By Elise Labott, reporting from Jerusalem
Time is running out for a diplomatic solution to Western concerns about Iran's nuclear program, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Monday in an interview with CNN.
He said Iran continues to flout the United Nations and world leaders by pushing forward with work on its nuclear program - including, he said, work on a nuclear weapon. But he said Iranian leaders would be making a costly mistake in believing the threat of military action is an empty one.
"You cannot provoke the world, assuming the world is made of fools only," Peres said.
His comments come at the start of talks in Moscow between Iran and the group of nations that have taken the lead on the issue: the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany. Peres is not attending the meetings.
The International Atomic Energy Agency and Western leaders have expressed concern about Iran's nuclear effort, including its uranium enrichment program and possible work toward a nuclear weapon. Iranian leaders have repeatedly said the work is purely peaceful. FULL POST
By Pam Benson
An additional six countries and Taiwan have significantly reduced their imports of Iranian crude oil and will not face tough sanctions from the United States, according to a statement released Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan now join 11 other countries that have met requirements set by U.S. law to reduce oil purchases from Iran to avoid a cutoff in access to the U.S. financial system.
Japan and 10 countries from the European Union secured waivers from U.S. sanctions in March.
"By reducing Iran's oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran's leaders: until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure," Clinton said in a statement.
Editors Note: Art Keller is a former case officer in the CIA's Counter Proliferation Division. He currently is a writer on intelligence and national security issues and recently published his first novel, "Hollow Strength."
By Art Keller, special to Security Clearance
As a new round of nuclear negotiations with Iran is set to begin this month, it brings up the question: In the not-unlikely event that this round of diplomacy collapses, as all previous rounds have, where would that leave the West? Is bombingIran's nuclear facilities the unavoidable final recourse?
Despite an abundance of saber-rattling, Western leaders have yet to convincingly explain why policy toward Iran should differ from policy toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Did we start bombing the Soviets because they acquired nuclear capability in 1949? Even though the Soviets regularly claimed their objective was the defeat of the West? Even though Soviets gave arms and money to proxies around the world, including direct support to terrorists? Even though they posed a far greater threat than Iran ever could? Are we doing that with North Korea? Even though the North Koreans have "the bomb" and have often used rhetoric that is even harsher than the Soviets?
By Pam Benson
American officials are adamant. The U.S. will respond - possibly with military force - if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons.
But will the U.S. know with an degree of certainty that a line has been crossed?
The decision itself to push ahead really comes down to one person, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper told a Senate hearing recently that any decision would be based on "the supreme leader's world view and the extent to which he thinks that would benefit the state of Iran or, conversely, not benefit."
Clapper was referring to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran.
By Pam Benson
A Washington think tank says it has identified the building at an Iranian military base where international inspectors suspect Iran may have conducted explosives tests connected with a possible nuclear weapons program.
In an exclusive interview with Security Clearance, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said commercial satellite imagery shows a building on the sprawling Parchin military complex just south of Tehran that may be the location of a high-explosive test chamber.
By Elise Labott
Does recent - and rare - praise by Iran's supreme leader for President Barack Obama's efforts to dampen war talk suggest the regime is making an overture toward the United States?
According to Iran's state-run Press TV, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei welcomed Obama's statement that there is a "window of opportunity" to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis through diplomacy, calling such remarks positive. This week, Obama has tried to cool down the martial rhetoric, saying there is too much "loose talk" of war with Iran.
"This talk is good talk and shows an exit from illusion," Khamenei told Iran's Assembly of Experts, a senior clerical body, about Obama's remarks.
He also singled out Obama's comments about bringing the Iranian people to their knees with continued sanctions. That, he said, "shows the continuation of illusion in this issue."