Published November 29, 2011
A Washington-based research group has released a satellite image showing an "extensively damaged" Iranian missile base two weeks after an explosion at the site was reported.
Paul Brannan, a senior research analyst for the Institute for Science and International Security, which specializes in nuclear weapons programs, said some of the buildings at the compound near the city of Bid Kaneh appear to be destroyed following the Nov. 12 explosion, which Iranian authorities have characterized as an accident.
"Some of the destruction seen in the image may have also resulted from subsequent controlled demolition of buildings and removal of debris," Brannan said in a statement. "There do not appear to be many pieces of heavy equipment such as cranes or dump trucks on the site, and a considerable amount of debris is still present."
As such, Brannan said most of the damage seen in the image likely resulted from the Nov. 12 explosion.
ISIS officials recently learned that the blast occurred as Iran achieved a "major milestone" in the development of a new missile. Iran was apparently performing a "volatile procedure" involving a missile engine at the site when the blast occurred, Brannan said.
Another explosion was reported on Monday in Isfahan, which houses another key Iranian nuclear facility. The cause of that incident is not immediately clear.
The Nov. 12 explosion, meanwhile, killed Maj. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, chief architect of Iran's ballistic missile program. Some reports have claimed that the Israeli Mossad was responsible for the blast, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Brig. Gen. Itay Brun, head of Israel's Military Intelligence Research Directorate, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the latest blast could delay Tehran's development of long-range missiles.
"The explosion at the site to develop surface-to-surface missiles could stop or delay activities on that track and in that location, but we must emphasize that Iran has other development tracks in addition to that facility," Brun said, according to the Jerusalem Post.