Thursday, May 10, 2012

Iran's Curious Car Crash Coverage

The International Atomic Energy Agency has yet to release the identity of the IAEA inspector who was killed in a car crash in Iran on Tuesday. But Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quickly named the fatally injured inspector as Ok-Seok Seo, or Seo Ok-Seok, from South Korea.

IRNA said he died when the car he was riding in overturned about 250 km southwest of Tehran.

Iranian state TV showed video of the heavily damaged vehicle. Press TV, the regime's overseas propaganda vehicle, reported Seo Ok-Seok was "part of an IAEA team that periodically visits the heavy water nuclear reactor in the city of Arak in west-central Iran."

Iran claims the reactor will be used to produce isotopes for medical and industrial uses. But the United States and other nations suspect that the reactor could be used to produce plutonium for nuclear warheads.

The IAEA says the following about the Arak reactor, the existence of which was first disclosed by an Iranian opposition group

F. Heavy Water Related Projects 
30. Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended work on all heavy water related projects, including the construction of the heavy water moderated research reactor, the Iran Nuclear Research Reactor (IR-40 Reactor), which is under Agency safeguards.32 
31. On 14 February 2012, the Agency carried out a DIV [Design Information Verification] at the IR-40 Reactor at Arak and observed that construction of the facility was ongoing and that one heavy water concentration column had been installed. According to Iran, the operation of the IR-40 Reactor is planned to commence in 2014.33 In a letter dated 27 January 2012, the Agency, having not received any update of the DIQ [Design Information Questionnaire] for the IR-40 Reactor since January 2007, requested Iran to provide an updated DIQ. 
32. Since its visit to the Heavy Water Production Plant (HWPP) on 17 August 2011, the Agency, in letters to Iran dated 20 October 2011 and 27 January 2012, requested further access to HWPP. The Agency has yet to receive a reply to those letters, and is again relying on satellite imagery to monitor the status of HWPP. Based on recent images, the HWPP appears to be in operation. To date, Iran has not provided the Agency with access to the heavy water stored at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in order to take samples.34

Is there any significance to Iran's rush to report the inspector's identity? In theory, the crash could have been staged in order to prevent the IAEA inspector from seeing something Iran didn't want him to see and/or as a retaliation for presumed assassinations by foreign intelligence services of Iranian nuclear scientists.

A possible additional motive comes to mind--namely, eliminating someone who could have been especially bothersome to Iran's partner in nuclear and missile crimes, North Korea, in a future inspection of its nuclear sites. Including the deceased inspector's name in a published news story would have been a secure way to communicate to Pyongyang that it no longer needed to concern itself about a certain South Korean national.

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