By Gareth Porter, Truthout
For many months, the most dramatic media storyline on Iran's nuclear program has been an explosives containment cylinder that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says was installed at Iran's Parchin military base a decade ago to test nuclear weapons. The coverage of the initial IAEA account of the cylinder in its report last November has been followed by a steady drip of reports about Iran refusing to allow the agency's inspectors to visit the site at Parchin and satellite photos showing what are said to be Iranian efforts to "sanitize" the site.
But unknown to consumers of corporate news, the story of the Parchin bomb test cylinder has been quietly unraveling. A former IAEA expert on nuclear weapons has criticized the story as technically implausible; the account itself turns out to be marked by a central internal contradiction, and even satellite images published to the IAEA account have been found by experts to contradict it.
The evidence detailed below leaves little room for doubt that the whole story of an explosives cylinder designed with the help a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist was a falsehood, foisted on the world by a state that is never named, but with an obvious political interest in promoting the idea of a covert Iranian nuclear arms program. However, the IAEA, which is supposed to be a politically neutral organization, appears to be committed to the storyline as part of the political commitment to the anti-Iran coalition that was pledged by its Director General Yukiya Amano. The tale of the bomb test cylinder is an essential backdrop for the coming confrontation with Iran.
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