Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 21, 2015

That Scary Iranian "Pink Tarp" Nuclear Explosion Chamber ... Does Not Exist

Everyone reading about the Iran nuclear program will remember the scary news about the "explosion chamber" at a "military site" in Parchin which was assumed to have been used for explosions simulations of a nuclear warhead:

In the November 2011 IAEA Safeguards report on Iran, the IAEA disclosed that information from member states indicated that Iran constructed a large explosives containment vessel or chamber at the Parchin military complex in 2000 to conduct high explosive and hydrodynamic experiments related to the development of nuclear weapons. After constructing the chamber at the Parchin site, some 30 kilometers southeast of Tehran, Iran constructed a building around the large cylindrical object. According to the report, “a large earth berm was subsequently constructed between the building containing the cylinder and a neighboring building, indicating the probable use of high explosives in the chamber.”

Lots of satellite pictures showing the building were published and AP even came up with a graphic sketch of the alleged scary chamber that anyone could have made within half an hour or so. Lots of words were written by this or that expert about that alleged chamber and I mocked it here. I had always assumed that, should such a chamber exist, it must have been used to produce nano-diamonds because at one point an Iranian university hired a Russian scientist who's specialty was creating nano-diamonds in similar explosion chambers. But that nano-diamond story did not fit the "scary Iran" tale.

When the Iranians renovated the building that allegedly held the chamber ISIS propagandist David Albright freaked out over a "pink tarp" Iran used to "cover the roof". That "pink tarp" turned out to be newly installed pink colored styrofoam insulation as used throughout Europe.

Today the IAEA director Yukiya Amano, tasked with verifying the nuclear deal with Iran, visited Parchin and entered the building. He found ... nothing:

Deputy Director General Varjoranta and I went to the site on Sunday. This was the first time that the Agency had visited the location.

We entered a building which the Agency had previously only been able to observe using satellite imagery.

Inside the building, we saw indications of recent renovation work. There was no equipment in the building.

Duh. That big bulky and heavy explosion chamber in that "pink tarp" building does not exist!

Now we will wait for those large headlines in the media and the long comments by the "experts" explaining this "tiny" correction of their earlier scare stories.

It is likely though that Godot will arrive first.

Posted by b on September 21, 2015 at 15:57 UTC | Permalink


>> There was no equipment in the building.

Has anyone claimed "They're hiding it! It was moved!" yet?

Posted by: not a name | Sep 21 2015 16:09 utc | 1

@1 - yeah.. give it a little time...

Posted by: james | Sep 21 2015 17:24 utc | 2

an absurdist trend seems to be catching on with all my favorite bloggers. yep, all three of them, and lampooning, of course, is the most graceful form of mockery after all. if it wasn't for all the blood splattered everywhere i'd laugh out loud.

Posted by: john | Sep 21 2015 17:34 utc | 3

It is time to connect the dotes. True story: an aide of then President Ahmedinejad was arrested for attempting sorcery, among others, raising a gene. Reported now: a huge object is placed on a base, covered with a roof and poooof! disappeared.

The connection. Ahmedinejad had no authority to sponsor sorcery, like military and law enforcement this is under the executive power of the theocratic part of the government of the Islamic republic. Tests of magic at Parchin were apparently successful, secret and legal in IRI.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 21 2015 18:12 utc | 4

The precautionary principle - The very lack of evidence proves something to be true.

They've used it since at least the cold war and I cant see them changing anytime soon.

Posted by: Bob | Sep 21 2015 18:35 utc | 5

Now we will wait for those large headlines in the media and the long comments by the "experts" explaining this "tiny" correction of their earlier scare stories.

They'll still likely object to the fact that the iranians were allowed to gather the soil samples around Parchin. But just as the deputy director general made it perfectly clear, this practise isn't anything new and untested. It won't jeopardize the IAEA's investigation on Parchin, but I suspect the usual suspects, who aren't an authority on the agency's methods, won't see it that way.

Posted by: never mind | Sep 21 2015 20:13 utc | 6

I understand that it was not like Iranians collected samples and mailed to IAEA, but there was a joint inspections, and Iranians were taking samples and passing to IAEA inspectors who were present. The idea is to prevent the contamination of samples by a hostile inspector, as some inspectors may be on the payroll of unfriendly intelligence organizations. I assume that Iranians would take sample in duplicate, to be able to challenge unexpected results.

It seems that "self-inspection" is a propaganda ploy similar to "death panels" that Obama administration was allegedly planning for its senior citizens.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 21 2015 20:21 utc | 7
Netanyahu and Putin Spar Over Syrian Threat to Israel


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that Syria, backed by Iran, was trying to open a second front against Israel, a claim President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia dismissed.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 21 2015 21:27 utc | 8

They're still at it.

Watched by an array of surveillance devices, including video and still cameras, Iranian officials have collected samples from a secret military complex and turned them over to international inspectors in a process that officials for the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog described Monday as conforming to their strict standards.

“We feel fully confident that the process and the end result so far are fully in line with our safeguards practices,” Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the watchdog group, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said at a news conference in Vienna.

The procedure has been bitterly criticized by Republican leaders and other opponents of the nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers. They say it gives carte blanche to Iran to hide evidence of cheating at the site, a military base called Parchin, where, as recently as in 2003, Tehran was accused of conducting research into making nuclear weapons and carrying out tests on explosives.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 21 2015 21:32 utc | 9

"Now we will wait for those large headlines in the media and the long comments by the "experts" explaining this "tiny" correction of their earlier scare stories."

Nah. There'll be no room for those stories in amongst all the breathless speculations on how the Iranians Must Have Smuggled That Honkin' Big Cylinder Through That Teeny Tiny Front Door.

The search will now simply shift to *that* mineshaft (George William Herbert's theory, espoused at armscontrolwonk months ago) in some god-forsaken place or *this* *other* *building* over here (surely David Albright already has a building in mind).

Look there (or is it here?) and that's where Amano will find the (slightly dented and dinged, to be sure) cylinder. Because that's where the Iranians moved it to.

Heck, Amano, look at the bottom of the garden.

Coz' that's where Khamenei had it moved. Using Magic-Dust and Fairy-Wing-Power.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Sep 21 2015 22:11 utc | 10

Typical American/Israeli/British/German/French arrogance they were convinced that they are the only ones who can conduct disinformation operations. It wouldn't surprise me if in twenty years or so, it is reported that this was an Iranian disinformation operation - use the MeK to persuade the US/UK/Israeli/French/German intelligence services that there was something in that building so that the Iranians had another "fact on the ground" to trade n the negotiations. Furthemore, it makes CIA/MI6/BND/etc. look stupid, unreliable, and incompetent

Posted by: blowback | Sep 21 2015 22:21 utc | 11

All 17 US intelligence Agencies said they thought Iran was complying with all its nuclear commitments, therefore most of the bad press Iran has had is pure propaganda, propaganda to serve the larger political interests of Israel. For instance the information on the laptop given to Israel by the Iranian opposition group MEK was declared to be a forgery by ElBaredei. It has been policy of Israel/US to use all means to keep Iran under sanctions and so prevent them from achieving hegemony in the region. 80 million well educated people and an energy giant to boot, means the 'arc of resistance' could become unstoppable. Sanctions could not last forever of course, and Iran was able to by pass them to a certain extent by bartering and other trade deals with friendly countries like China. Sanctions were also a double edged sword, enabling Iran to be self sufficient in manufactured goods, particularly arms production. The cost/benefit analysis of the US using force was too great, because of the loss of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran said they could easily close and wreck Western economies. So the deal was struck, to the dismay of Israel, because they know the 'arc' has been strengthened and Hezbollah will receive extra financial and military aid. Also the military alliance with Syria will not be broken, although overt action by them in Syria may not be wise at this time and has anyway been averted, with the significant Russian entrance. The same intelligence information is given to all branches of government but their judgements differ. It is policy, not intelligence which governments act on, and that intelligence is ignored, unless it happens to coincide with that policy. When Islamic state gets smashed in Syria, as they will be, Iran will dominate the region and the 'axis of convenience' or evil if you will, Saudi Arabia and Israel will be the losers.Hooray!

Posted by: harry law | Sep 21 2015 23:23 utc | 12

OT: How wrong ( as part of their plan ) were the media pollsters about the Greek election results...once a fucking again, where Syriza won comfortably, instead of the neck and next contest that was predicted, - or is that 'predictive rigging.'
Examples of the media, "left" or otherwise, Trying to rig elections in favour of their paymasters is getting worse and worse.

It's just getting too blatant, and the Corbyn hatefest by the fake left media makes even more obviously biased in favour of war of regime change and austerity across all of the West.

Posted by: tom | Sep 22 2015 0:47 utc | 13

Thats: wars of regime change across the middle east.

Posted by: tom | Sep 22 2015 0:48 utc | 14

@11 I voiced something very similar months ago.

There appears to be a bad case of cognitive dissonance going on inside what passes for "the arms control community".

On the one hand: The Iranians can't be trusted! Deceit is in their DNA. Their negotiators are so much more cunning than our negotiators! Come on, Wake Up! They follow the rules of the bazaar, so if they agree then you know you've been taken to the cleaners!

On the other hand: Man, are they stupid or what? They've thrown a pink tarp over that building! They might as well painted a big sign on it saying "This is the one you are looking for!". What a bunch of dumb-dumbs, they don't realize we can see what they are doing!

Okaaaaaay. I can accept the idea of one. Or the other.

But what I can't accept is the notion that the Iranians are both as cunning as a fox (when that's convenient) and as stupid as an Ox (again, when that's convenient).

Pick one, or pick the other. But the arms control wonks can't pick both, because you can't make both fit inside the same box.

I think you are right: the Iranians played David Albright for a fool, they couldn't have picked a better clown.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Sep 22 2015 0:52 utc | 15

The real question to me is why has not Israel been presented with the same agreement Iran signed, and given the choice to sign itself or face the same consequences Iran faced ... for decades? Huh? Why is that?

Why are fantasy nuclear weapons in Iran a problem and real nuclear weapons in Israel A-OK?

Who has been invading its neighbors ceaselessly over the past decades? And who has not?

'Western civilization' is a sick joke.

Posted by: jfl | Sep 22 2015 1:15 utc | 16

Clearly they dug a massive tunnel, built a railway and transported the chamber (and its pink tarp) to a new, subterranean facility. Give Israel the MOPs!

Posted by: gemini33 | Sep 22 2015 1:50 utc | 17

@17 Very unlikely. My money is on the IAEA soil sample analysis coming up positive for Magic Fairy Dust.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Sep 22 2015 2:49 utc | 18

What color tarp?

Oh maybe Outrageous Orange?

These people are color obsessed?

Posted by: blues | Sep 22 2015 7:50 utc | 19

Yeah, Right @ 10 "The search will now simply shift to *that* mineshaft (George William Herbert's theory, espoused at armscontrolwonk months ago)"
I think you are wrong. I agree with the views of General'Buck'Turgidson, "Mr President we must not allow a mine shaft gap" [Dr Strangelove].

Posted by: harry law | Sep 22 2015 8:03 utc | 20

For They Are Already In Control of the Oil, the Money and the Power, the 'legitimate' government of demi-royals supported by KSA will lay seige to 12,000,000 Yemeni citizens, starving them of fuel, food and electricity from the temporary seat of government (sic) in Aden, as UN forces pile in with support.

They see what's happening in Greece and Britain, and with stomp their jackboots into the upturned faces of their citizens, forever, or, at least until Saleh is anally raped to death. Bahah's Back! Lu,lu,lu,lu,lu,lu!

Posted by: NoReply | Sep 22 2015 9:58 utc | 21

WAPO is reporting this morning the administration is considering even LESS vetting for its "Arms for Jihadis" program in Syria. Apparently the dream of deposing Assad will never die and can never be killed.

Posted by: thepanzer | Sep 22 2015 11:51 utc | 22
according to FT, Moscow is set to send 2,000 troops to Latakia as part of the mission’s “first phase”. Here’s more:
Russia is to deploy 2,000 military personnel to its new air base near the Syrian port city of Latakia, signalling the scale of Moscow’s involvement in the war-torn country.

The deployment “forms the first phase of the mission there”, according to an adviser on Syria policy in Moscow.

The force will include fighter aircraft crews, engineers and troops to secure the facility, said another person briefed on the matter.

Three western defence officials agreed that the Russian deployment tallied with the numbers needed to establish a forward air base similar to those built by western militaries in Afghanistan.

Here's more, from The New York Times, on the buildup at Latakia:
The deployment of some of Russia’s most advanced ground attack planes and fighter jets as well as multiple air defense systems at the base near the ancestral home of President Bashar al-Assad appears to leave little doubt about Moscow’s goal to establish a military outpost in the Middle East. The planes are protected by at least two or possibly three SA-22 surface-to-air, antiaircraft systems, and unarmed Predator-like surveillance drones are being used to fly reconnaissance missions.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 22 2015 14:16 utc | 23

22;Yes,can one believe the idiocy of this administration or is it planned?;Dore Gold says the refugee influx into Europe is good for Israel,as it will increase anti Muslim sentiment and Israeli support.Divide and rule.

Posted by: dahoit | Sep 22 2015 14:21 utc | 24

Fort Russ -- Russian marines clash with ISIS in Syria -- September 21, 2015

As announced on September 20th by "MILITARY INFORMANT" On the night from September 19 to 20, our marines guarding the Russian military base, located near the settlement of Latakia (Syria), discovered a group of militants walking in the direction of the base, numbering up to 8 people. The decision was made to destroy the enemy, after all, our intelligence knew about the plans of the militants for organizing the attack on the Russian base in Latakia with mortars and small arms.

As a result of the clash, three militants were killed, two captured, and the rest retreated. During the search of the prisoners plans of the airbase and satellite images with the marked important points of the base were found.

Russian troops are now in Syria fighting "ISX". There will be no back doors into Iran. And does "ISX" have spy satellites?

Posted by: blues | Sep 22 2015 15:22 utc | 25


This is an interesting semi-official report because I cannot find any reports of the Islamic State forces operating in this area only smaller rebel groups such as the one that attacked the air base a few days ago. Branding any rebels who attack the Russian positions as IS does promote Russia's cover story of being involved in Syria only to fight the IS.

I wonder how they will spin the story if the Army of Conquest begins an offensive on Latakia? The satellite images would be available to rebel groups who are connected with the US or Saudis but it is doubtful the IS would have access to them.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Sep 22 2015 16:12 utc | 26
Russian build-up in Syria puts Israel on the back foot

By M.K. Bhadrakumar on September 22, 2015 in Asia Times News & Features

There is a saying, ‘misfortunes never come singly’. That must have been the thought on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s mind as he headed for Moscow Monday on what the Russians described as a 3-hour “short working visit” – a call on President Vladimir Putin at his residence in city suburbs for what a top Kremlin official forecast would be “a business and frank conversation” (read plain-speaking), and back to the airport on the return journey. We don’t know whether Putin hosted a lunch for ‘Bibi’.

The Russian military build-up in Syria comes as a big setback to Netanyahu’s regional policies. And it comes immediately after the spectacular defeat he suffered in the campaign to kill the Iran nuclear deal.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 22 2015 16:24 utc | 27

So let's see now -- the US-led coalition of nations "fighting ISIS" provided satellite imagery of a Russian military base in Syria -- which base was invited by the Syrian government -- to "some group" that then staged an attack upon the Russian base.

What could go wrong?

Posted by: blues | Sep 22 2015 16:36 utc | 28

Russian engagement with the Islamists [of whatever variety] will soon confront Turkey and the porous border, allowing supplies and military equipment to supply IS and others to kill Russian troops. Erdogans determination to remove Assad will shortly be put to the test. It must be in Putins mind that at a recent meeting Erdogan promised the leader of the International Muslim Brigade that he would support them against Russia.
Mustafa Abdülcemil Cemiloğlu, the historic leader of the anti-Russian Tatars and CIA collaborator during the Reagan presidency, announced, on behalf of the Uukrainian government, the creation of an International Muslim Brigade to oppose « Crimean Russian separatism » (sic). The Brigade will be based at Herson, near the Crimean frontier, and will include volunteers from Tatarstan and Chechnya (Russia), Ouzbekistan, Azerbaidjan, and Meskhetia (Géorgia).

At the end of the Congress, Mustafa Abdülcemil Cemiloğlu was received by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who assured him of Turkey’s support against Russia.
Better to fight them over there, than fight them at home. That makes sense.

Posted by: harry law | Sep 22 2015 16:43 utc | 29

At the time of the Iraqi WMD I wondered why all these suspicious things were so small - a vial of botulism, a roving truck filled with deadly stuff which turned out to be a vehicle taking metereological measurements (or whatever along those line I don’t recall) and figured because a small invention or mis-representation is easier to swear to, maintain, or later, get out of, finally accepting them as a mistake, once the topic is out of the news. Additionally, small things -a vial of botulism, a letter with white powder- are more menacing and real to narrow house-wifely minds than, say, 17 nu-ku-lear warheads discovered in Iran, lie which moreover would be hard to shore up and might create international ruckus.

Still holds. But really these alarming small things have become emblems for accusations, calling cards for the ingroup, symbols merely. Everyone (except for a large part of the public) knows they are BS. So the test is, do you support this? Or are you reluctant? Do you deny, the facts, the importance, the need to bruit this about? It is all quasi-religious, in the sense investment into the belief of the power of small artefacts that stand as symbols of belonging or… temporary worship!

Posted by: Noirette | Sep 22 2015 17:10 utc | 30

Regarding #26

Where it was said:
"Branding any rebels who attack the Russian positions as IS does promote Russia's cover story of being involved in Syria only to fight the IS."

The Russians are the only group with forces in Syria that were invited in by Syria. So they don't need any cover story at all. They are obviously there to protect the Syrian government. Not merely to "fight the IS."

So this "cover story" narrative is an obvious red herring.

Posted by: blues | Sep 22 2015 17:15 utc | 31

Well, Hezbollah also.

Posted by: blues | Sep 22 2015 17:19 utc | 32


There are also groups of fighters from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan fighting on Assad's side.

I don't read Russian and the statements I have read from the Russians in English only mention the Islamic State as the reason for their intervention. This is obviously untrue because the bases they occupy are surrounded by rebel groups other than the IS.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Sep 23 2015 0:08 utc | 33

David Albright is now claiming that his "water on the tarmac" photos from 2012 means that the Iranians chopped up the chamber using blowtorches (obviously, they were running a garden hose over the chamber while it was being chopped up), and then snuck the bits out through the front door.... err.... somehow.... without... ummm.... anyone noticing.... least of all him.

A thought-experiment: imagine that there are 10 scientists in the building during a normal working day, and every scientist has a lab coat, and each lab coat has two deep pockets, then they could sneak the bits out according to this formulae:
(Number of Steel Fragments)/(20) = (Number of Days To Remove All Evidence)

Mind you, the fragments have to be small enough to fit entirely into the pocket of a lab coat (otherwise Eagle-Eye-Albright'll catch'ya!), so that sets an upper limit.

If they started in 2012 then that gives them three years to do it, which amounts to 1,095 days to remove the fragments via Lab-Coat-Cunning..

A Ten-Scientist-Shift would be able to sneak out around 22,000 pocket sized fragments in that time (or 44,000 if they all go out for lunch).

Even 44,000 lab-coat-pocket sized steel fragments won't amount to a Steel Implosion Chamber big enough to dominate a large building.

How are you calling this one, Adam?
I'm calling this one Busted, Jaime.
Agreed. Busted.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Sep 23 2015 2:50 utc | 34

Garteh Porter with the history of the fake explosion chamber nonsense: Iran's Parchin nuclear myth begins to unravel

Posted by: b | Sep 23 2015 14:24 utc | 35

Can someone help me make sense of the statements issued by the Pentagon today?

1. They say they'll train a "small group of Syrian leaders in Turkey, with a promise to provide U.S. air cover to their units when they head back into the fight, and to send additional arms and equipment to those units already showing progress inside Syria."

2. Obama admin "still want local forces to fight the Syrian conflict, and that U.S.-trained Syrians were to engage and fight the Islamic State, but not Syrian state military forces of President Bashar al-Assad."

3. SecDef Carter says: “I believe the changes we are instituting today will, over time, increase the combat power of counter-ISIL forces in Syria and ultimately help our campaign achieve a lasting defeat of ISIL.”

But I can't find the changes. Everyone seems to say that there are no rebels who will fight ISIS and not Assad, so who are these guys? No group names are provided, as usual.

4. Pentagon Press Sec "U.S. military 'to provide equipment packages and weapons to a select group of vetted [Syrian] leaders and their units so that over time they can make a concerted push into territory still controlled by ISIL' "

"Vetted" is supposed to mean non-AQ and non-ISIS.

5. State Dept envoy: “At the same time we have seen opportunities emerge where we have been able to equip forces fighting on the ground in Syria and have seen them make significant gains, particularly in northeastern Syria.”

Hmm, northeastern Syria, where ISIS is most entrenched, right? And Russia hasn't, far as I know, begun focusing on but where Kurds can be partnered with?

6. Same Lt General Nagata "will continue to run the retasked program with a new mission to focus on finding other Syrian groups already “on the battlefield.”

So they're not shutting down the train and equip program. They're taking "an operational pause" and have a new mission which doesn't sound any different than the old mission except they'll work with groups already on the ground but they won't name the rebel groups who are supposedly not Al Qaeda and not ISIS.

Did these guys adopt Petraeus plan to work with Al Qaeda? Are they really fighting ISIS or are they just keeping open the supply lines to the CIA jihadis?

Posted by: gemini33 | Oct 9 2015 16:44 utc | 36

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