SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iran has begun construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo amid tensions with the U.S. over tis atomic program, AP reported on Friday.
The Associated Agency has obtained satellite images showing the construction is taking place at a northwest corner of the site, near the holly Shia city of Qom, some 90 kilometers southwest of Tehran.
A December 11 satellite photo shows what appears to be a dug foundation for a building with dozens of pillars, AP reported. Such pillars can be used in construction to support buildings in earthquake zones.
AP said the construction site sits northwest of Fordo’s underground facility, built deep inside a mountain to protect it from potential airstrikes. The is site is near other above-ground support and research-and-development buildings at Fordo.
Iran has not acknowledged any new construction at Fordo, whose discovery by the West in 2009 came in an earlier round of brinkmanship before world powers struck the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
“Any changes at this site will be carefully watched as a sign of where Iran’s nuclear program is headed,” AP cited Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies who studies Iran, as saying.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations told AP that “none of Iran’s nuclear activities are secret”.
“We have always maintained that our current activities, which are in line with (the nuclear deal), can and will be immediately reversed once the other parties, including the U.S., come into full compliance with what was agreed upon, in particular on removing sanctions,” said Iran’s mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi.