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News stories about satellite photographs suggesting efforts by Iran to "sanitize" a military site that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said may have been used to test nuclear weapons have added yet another layer to widely held suspicion that Iran must indeed be hiding a covert nuclear weapons program.
But the story is suspect, in part because it is based on evidence that could only be ambiguous, at best. The claim does not reflect U.S. intelligence, and a prominent think tank that has published satellite photography related to past controversies surrounding Iran's nuclear program has not found any photographs supporting it.
The original Parchin clean-up story by Associated Press correspondent George Jahn, published Mar. 7, reported that two unnamed diplomats from an unidentified country or countries -- it was not made clear how many were involved -- told him that satellite photos "appear to show trucks and earth-moving vehicles" at the site.
The two diplomats said they suspected Iran "may be trying to erase evidence" of tests of a "neutron device used to set off a nuclear explosion" because "some of the vehicles at the scene appeared to be hauling trucks and other equipment suited to carting off potentially contaminated soil from the site."