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The site of the expansion is shown in a photo obtained from the European Commission’s Sentinel-2 satellite on Friday, June 26, 2020 …Read more
DUBAI: An explosion that ripped off Iran’s capital came from an area in its eastern mountains that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites, satellite photos showed Saturday.
What happened in the early hours of Friday was that a massive fireball was sent into the sky near Tehran which is unclear as to what caused the explosion.
The Iranian government’s unusual response in the aftermath of the explosion, however, underscores the sensitive nature of an area where international inspectors believe the Islamic Republic conducted high explosive tests two decades ago for a nuclear weapons trigger.
The explosion shook homes, shattered windows and lit up the horizon early Friday in the Alborz Mountains. State TV later aired a segment describing it as the site of the explosion.
A journalist in front of it appeared that large, dark-colored gas cylinders appeared, although the camera was tightly focused and showed nothing else around the site.
Defense Ministry spokesman Davood Abdi blamed the explosion on a leaking gas, which he did not identify and said no one was killed in the blast.
Abdi described the site as a “public area”, questioning why military officers and civilians would not be in charge of firefighters. The state TV report did not respond to this.
Satellite photographs of an area about 20 kilometers (12.5 mi) east of downtown Tehran appeared hundreds of meters (four yards) yards not seen in images of the area taken in the weeks before the event.
A four-digit building appears from the facility shown in state TV footage. The gas storage area sits near analysts described as Iran’s Khojir missile facility.
The explosion appears to have been a facility for the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets, said Fabin Heinz, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies identified Khojir as “the site of several tunnels, some suspected of use for assembly.”
Large industrial buildings on the site, visible from satellite photographs, also suggest a missile assembly to be held there.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency says Iran has the largest underground facility program in the Middle East.
The DIA said in 2019 that such sites “support most aspects of Tehran’s ballistic missile capabilities, including operational forces and missile development and production programs.”
Iranian officials identified themselves as being located in Parchin, home of a military base where the International Atomic Energy Agency previously said it was doubtful Iran had tested an explosive trigger that could be used in nuclear weapons is.
Iran has long denied seeking nuclear weapons, although the IAEA previously said Iran had acted “in support of a potential military dimension to the nuclear program”, which came to a halt in late 2003. happened.
Western concerns over the Iranian nuclear program led to sanctions and ultimately to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The US retreated unilaterally in May 2018 under President Donald Trump, leaving the deal’s production limits due to a series of escalating attacks between Iran and the US and Tehran.
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