A Washington-based research group has released satellite images showing extensive damage to an Iranian nuclear site two weeks after a mysterious explosion destroyed the facility.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which specializes in the study of nuclear weapons programs, released images of the compound following the November 12 explosion near the city of Malard.
Before and after imagery offers a stark contrast of the site, but doesn’t provide any clues as to what actually caused the explosion.
The photographs clearly reveal that most of the buildings have been completely destroyed. Of course, some of the destruction may have resulted from subsequent controlled demolition of buildings and removal of debris, but because about the same number of trucks are visible in the image after the blast as in an image prior to the blast, it is likely that most of the damage resulted from the explosion.
Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have characterized the incident as an “accident,” involving the transport of ammunition. Continued use of this explanation, however, forces Iran into a predicament, given the increased number of recent industrial incidents the nation has suffered. In particular, Iran likely does not want to appear vulnerable at a time when Israeli leaders have been debating military intervention over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. But accident or not, the ISIS Photos leave no doubt that the facility has been effectively destroyed.
Paul Brannan, a senior ISIS analyst, indicated that it is impossible to tell from the imagery whether the blast was caused by sabotage, as has been speculated about this explosion and others at transport facilities, oil refineries and military bases in Iran, or if it is indeed the result of an accident.
When performing work with missiles, there are a variety of “volatile processes” that could cause an explosion, explained Brannan.
Brannan also added that ISIS had recently learned from “knowledgeable officials” that the blast occurred just as Iran had achieved a “milestone” in the development of a new missile, and may have been performing a “volatile procedure involving a missile engine at the site.”
Suspicions that covert actions may be responsible for this and other explosions continue to mount despite official denials by the Iranian regime.
Interestingly, on Monday The Blaze reported that a major blast also rocked the Iranian city of Isfahan, a town that is said to be "home to nuclear experimental reactors, and also a uranium enrichment facility for producing nuclear fuel.”