GeoEye gives look at Iranian nuclear site
A U.S. satellite imagery company and IHS Jane's share an annotated photo of Iran's newly disclosed underground nuclear facility at the center of diplomatic controversy.
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.
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.
See the shots below for a view of what the companies say are the main and auxiliary entrances, the ventilation shafts, and an overall view.
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.