Friday, April 11, 2008

Finding Iran's long-range missile site in Google Earth

A secret site where Iran is suspected of developing long-range ballistic missiles can be explored on Google Earth. Entering the coordinates N 35 13 19, E 53 53 41 reveals a Digital Globe satellite image of the facility taken earlier than the one posted in today's Times story ("Spy photos reveal 'secret launch site' for Iran's long-range missiles," by Michael Evans). The Times story claims the more recent image was taken four days after the launch of Iran's Kavoshgar 1 "research rocket" on February 4.

According to Jane's Intelligence Review, the photograph is said to reveal to a former Iraqi weapons inspector that Iran is using the site, about 230km southeast of Tehran, to develop a ballistic missile with a range of 6,000 km. Geoffrey Forden, research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is quoted as pointing out that a recently constructed building, 40 meters in length, is similar in shape and size to the North Korean long-range Taepodong missile assembly facility.

The new building is plainly visible in the lower left corner of the photograph accompanying the Times story (below), and is notably absent on the earlier Digital Globe image currently in use on Google Earth.


Iranian missile site 2_2

UPDATE: You can also see the Google Map imagery without leaving your browser at Flash Earth

UPDATE 2

The original story from Jane's can be found here: Iran Develops Long Range Missile Technology:

Analysis by Jane's has identified several developments at this site since the most recent open source imagery was taken in September 2004. Jane's has identified facilities at this site similar in size and form to the Taepodong assembly facility in North Korea. Measurement and Signatures Intelligence by Jane's shows features of the site are also similar to North Korean facility features that indicate this facility is the location of missile assembly.

Jane's Proliferation Editor Avital Johanan commented: "This analysis suggests that Tehran is following the same path in its missile programme as North Korea and identifies a previously unidentified location as an important element in it. Bringing together Jane's analysis with exclusive satellite imagery provides a unique capability to offer near-real time intelligence."
(Hat tip:TheZoo)

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|| headland, 9:19 AM

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