Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GeoEye spots Iranian nuclear site

Satellite imagery company GeoEye has released a photo of what it says is the controversial and underground Iranian uranium enrichment site that came to light last week.
By Stephen Shankland CNET News
Posted on ZDNet News: Sep 28, 2009 5:59:32 AM

The photo, taken Saturday, shows the facility at a military site about 20 miles north-northeast of Qum and 100 miles southwest of Tehran, GeoEye said. An analysis of the photo by IHS Jane's, a defense intelligence consulting firm, said the facility has a primary and several auxiliary entrances, ventilation shafts, a surface-to-air missile site, and quarry and construction equipment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it received a letter Monday disclosing the facility, and on Friday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it was for uranium enrichment and was 18 months away from being operational.

Centrifuges can separate different isotopes of uranium to produced "enriched" uranium needed to make nuclear weapons; Iran said it's only enriching uranium for purposes of generating electricity. U.S. intelligence agencies said the newly revealed facility is designed to house 3,000 centrifuges, according to the New York Times and others.

The GeoEye-1 satellite took the photo while traveling north 423 miles above the Earth at 4 miles per second relative to the surface of the Earth. The satellite also supplies imagery for Google Maps and Google Earth.


I took the two location hints from the article (100 miles southwest of Tehran: 20 miles NNE of Qum) and found the place quite quickly with Google Earth. All the roads match up, but the Google Earth image is obviously older, and taken at mid-day when there are no shadows to provide texture on the ground. I made a KMZ bookmark if you'd rather just go there and not do the sleuthing yourself:

Google Earth KMZ Bookmark, Second Iranian Nuclear Site

lat 34.884418
lon 50.997173

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