Iranian Ballistic Missile Facility Found

Do satellite photos show Iran ballistic missile facility?” asks a CSM headline. The answer, apparently, is yes. Here’s the photo in question:

Iran’s Ballistic Missile Facility

Can you identify the missile facility? Me neither, aside from the little circle with “CB” in it. Michael Evans of the Times of London, though, says that people who know how to read these things can.

The secret site where Iran is suspected of developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets in Europe has been uncovered by new satellite photographs. The imagery has pinpointed the facility from where the Iranians launched their Kavoshgar 1 “research rocket” on February 4, claiming that it was in connection with their space programme.

Analysis of the photographs taken by the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite four days after the launch has revealed a number of intriguing features that indicate to experts that it is the same site where Iran is focusing its efforts on developing a ballistic missile with a range of about 6,000km (4,000 miles).

A previously unknown missile location, the site, about 230km southeast of Tehran, and the link with Iran’s long-range programme, was revealed by Jane’s Intelligence Review after a study of the imagery by a former Iraq weapons inspector. A close examination of the photographs has indicated that the Iranians are following the same path as North Korea, pursuing a space programme that enables Tehran to acquire expertise in long-range missile technology.

[…]

Avital Johanan, the editor of Jane’s Proliferation, said that the analysis of the Iranian site indicated that Tehran may be about five years away from developing a 6,000km ballistic missile. This would tie in with American intelligence estimates and underlines why President Bush wants the Polish and Czech components of the US missile defence system to be up and running by 2013.

Iran says these are just rockets that will be used as part of a friendly space program. Analysts disagree.

However, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, the satellite photographs prove that the Kavoshgar 1 rocket was not part of a civilian space centre project but was consistent with Iran’s clandestine programme to develop longer-range missiles. The examination of the launch site revealed that it was part of a large and growing complex “with very high levels of security and recent construction activity”. It was clearly “an important strategic facility”, Dr Forden said.

The former Iraq weapons inspector said that Iran was benefiting from the North Korean missile programme and following its designs. The Taepodong 1 consisted of a liquid-propellant Nodong (like the Shahab 3) first stage, a liquid-propellant Scud second stage and a solid-propellant third stage. “The production and testing facility next to the Kavoshgar 1 launch site would seem well positioned to contribute to this third stage,” Dr Forden said.

CSM’s Arthur Bright connects the dots: “If the Iranian facility is indeed developing a long-range ballistic missile, it would explain NATO’s decision last week to move ahead with the missile shield program supported by the US.”

It would indeed.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. davod says:

    “Tehran may be about five years away from developing a 6,000km ballistic missile.”

    Five years sounds like a time picked out of the air. Much like what the IAEA people say in response the nuclear effort. Always use a timeframe long enough to put off any action.

    There is a difference between designing and copying what someone else has already built. I do not think they are designing from scratch.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    My understanding is that these are Iranian-made versions of North Korean designs.

  3. Bithead says:

    If that’s the case, Dave, one wonders if there is not a tie-in to that railway explosion at Ryongchong. As I recall, hat train had liquid rocket fuel on it. Since there were known to be Syrians on board that train at the time of the explosion, it would seem to me a rather uncomfortable link. And one wonders how Carter and his vist to the terrorists in Syria ties into all of this.

  4. mike says:

    Israel: send a couple of tomahawks – that will set them back a while.

  5. Alex Knapp says:

    And one wonders how Carter and his vist to the terrorists in Syria ties into all of this.

    Are you seriously implying that a former United States President is engaged in committing acts of treason?

    Israel: send a couple of tomahawks – that will set them back a while.

    Yes, because as the past 5,000 years of history has shown, there’s no way to bring peace to the Middle East like committing unprovoked acts of violence.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alex, if a man says he intends to kill you. When is it appropriate to do something to stop him? When he is in the process of getting a gun? While he is loading the gun? Or do you wait until he has it, it is loaded and he has it pointed at you and is fingering the trigger? Why is saying Iran intends to wipe Israel from the face of the earth not a provocation?

  7. Bithead says:

    Are you seriously implying that a former United States President is engaged in committing acts of treason?

    Given what is coming out about the last visit to Syria by Democrats, to say nothing of his own history, I’d not put it past him.

    And exactly, Zels… How dare we judge them by what they SAY?

  8. Michael says:

    Given what is coming out about the last visit to Syria by Democrats, to say nothing of his own history, I’d not put it past him.

    Seriously? Get a grip man.

    And exactly, Zels… How dare we judge them by what they SAY?

    Ok, even if nothing I can say will make you step back and re-evaluate your stance, this should. You’re agreeing with something _Zelsdorf_ said. Come on, that has to make you question your position, at least a little bit.

  9. Bithead says:

    Seriously? Get a grip man.

    So, we can hurl charges of treason against GWB when he has no history of it… and you know as well as I that’s still happening today. But against Carter?

    And you tell ME to get a grip?

    The bottom line is that what Carter is doing is at least illegal. Based on some research about that Pelsi trip I mentioned, I’ll have more to say on this, this weekend, and I’ll link to in in this comment stream.

  10. Bithead says:

    Ok, even if nothing I can say will make you step back and re-evaluate your stance, this should. You’re agreeing with something _Zelsdorf_ said. Come on, that has to make you question your position, at least a little bit.

    He got it correctly, what can I say?
    Hell, man, I’d even agree with YOU were you to get something right. I mean granted, the chances of it actually happening are pretty slim, but still…

  11. Michael says:

    So, we can hurl charges of treason against GWB when he has no history of it… and you know as well as I that’s still happening today. But against Carter?

    Anybody hurling charges of treason at GWB needs to get a grib too, and I’ve told many of them to do just that.

    He got it correctly, what can I say?

    Zelsdorf _never_ gets anything correctly. If you ever find yourself agreeing with him, it’s historically far more likely that you are wrong than him being right.

  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    The gospel according to Michael. If you Mikey disagree with everything I say, then I am successful. For I find you are so full of shinola that you reek. So since that is settled, just answer the question I posed Mikey. When would you do something? I suppose you would wait for Obama to pop out of the sky to save your sorry hide. Bon chance’

  13. duckspeaker says:

    He got it correctly, what can I say?

    Juan Cole has persuasively argued that the “wipe Israel of the map” quotation has been largely taken out of context and/or mistranslated.

    The phrase he then used as I read it is “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”

    Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope– that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah’s government.

    But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.

    The fact that “wipe off the map” is an idiom that does not exist in Farsi is another point that Cole makes.

    I’m not writing to stick up for Ahmadinejad, but just to point out that the oft-used “wipe off the map” quote should not be the sole argument for hostility towards Iran.

  14. anjin-san says:

    If Israel feels that Iran is an imminent threat to their existence, fine. Let them deal with it. They have an excellent military, and the Mossad is well equipped to do threat assessment.

    The keyboard warriors and lapel pen patriots here seem pretty worked up about Iran. If they are all that concerned about Israel, they can always go there and volunteer for the IDF.

  15. mike says:

    anjin – some of us are active duty military (although not IDF) – I know from all of your past posts, you clearly are not, never have been, and certainly will not be in the future.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Mike,

    As far as I know, there is zero demand for 49 year old boots with high blood pressure in our military. (of course as bush depletes our forces, this may change).

    I did see a recruiter they day after 9.11, but they had no interest in me. I was perfectly willing to serve when our country was attacked. I have never been willing to fight simply because political leaders were fools. (‘Nam, Iraq).

    As I get older, I find that I value life, all life more. I don’t want to see our troops dying because Bush is a fool and Cheney a war monger. I don’t want to see innocents in other countries die for the same reasons.

    As I said, Israel is equipped to take care of themselves. If they feel they must. Do you disagree?

    I have no problem with the military, in fact, they have my full support. Part of that support is wanting to see that we do not waste precious lives and national treasure. Sometimes, you must fight. Afghanistan is such a case. But I am certainly not willing to see us attack Iran because someone thinks they might do something to Israel at some point.

  17. Matt says:

    What blows my mind is anyone would actually believe that Iran is capable or willing to “wipe Isreal off the face of the map”. It’s pretty obvious any attempt to do so would result in a massive response of potentially the nuclear variety..

  18. Bithead says:

    First, here’s the link I promised to the post regarding Carter, and Treason. The man has done it before. And so, by the way has Pelosi, as you will see.

    The fact that “wipe off the map” is an idiom that does not exist in Farsi is another point that Cole makes.

    So, they cant adopt our phrases to send a message? Com’on.

    If Israel feels that Iran is an imminent threat to their existence, fine. Let them deal with it. They have an excellent military, and the Mossad is well equipped to do threat assessment.

    So they have done. Yet, does it make sense that they would stop at Israel?

    Look, gang, you keep mouthing platitudes about how Iran doesn’t have the ability. In a conventional sense, that’s true. But since when has Arab extremism been limited to a conventional fight?

  19. anjin-san says:

    Going to Syria is treason?:

    >By Think Progress on Mar 30th, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Republican Reps. Aderholt and Wolf are currently visiting Syria. According to a congressional official on Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) staff, Aderholt and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) are currently visiting Israel and Syria.

    Republican Rep. Hobson accompanying Pelosi on Syria visit. Speaker Pelosi will be traveling with a contingent of members of Congress to Syria. The delegation includes Reps. David Hobson (R-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV).

    Look, gang, you keep mouthing platitudes about how Iran doesn’t have the ability. In a conventional sense, that’s true. But since when has Arab extremism been limited to a conventional fight?

    Bit, why not rename your blog ignorant fools for war? Iran is a Persian, not an Arab nation. Arabic speakers constitute about 1% of Iran’s population.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Yet, does it make sense that they would stop at Israel?

    Bit, yours is really a remarkable line of reasoning. We have to go to war with Iran because they might be trying to get nukes. Our intelligence community says not (and I suspect the Mossad agrees), but we need to go to war, pronto.

    If they got nukes, they might attack Isreal, because Arab extremism knows no bounds. The Iranians are not Arabs, but who keeps track of such things?

    And of course after a nuclear attack on Israel, Iran will be ready to move on and attack everyone else. They fact that half an hour after a nuclear attack on Israel, Iran would be a radioactive wasteland does not seem to figure in to the equation.

    Amazing…

  21. Bithead says:

    Bit, yours is really a remarkable line of reasoning. We have to go to war with Iran because they might be trying to get nukes. Our intelligence community says not (and I suspect the Mossad agrees), but we need to go to war, pronto

    How dare we judge them by what they say.

    And of course after a nuclear attack on Israel, Iran will be ready to move on and attack everyone else. They fact that half an hour after a nuclear attack on Israel, Iran would be a radioactive wasteland does not seem to figure in to the equation.

    No, it doesn’t. First of all, because what you fail to understand is they don’t care about death. We are dealing with religious fanatics who would welcome it if they caused the west damage…(All in the name of Allah, of course) and consider 100 deaths on their side for every one death on the part of the west, to be a good trade.

    Republican Reps. Aderholt and Wolf are currently visiting Syria. According to a congressional official on Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) staff, Aderholt and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) are currently visiting Israel and Syria.

    And are they there with the stated purpose of negotiating with terrorists? No? Then what’s your point?

    Iran is a Persian, not an Arab nation

    Fine. You want to call it Islamic extremism? I’m down with that. You’re dancing on the head of a definition, but you’re not moving the main point.

  22. anjin-san says:

    And are they there with the stated purpose of negotiating with terrorists? No? Then what’s your point?

    Please show a statement by Carter or Pelosi where they say “I am here to negotiate with terrorists”

    they don’t care about death

    You are every bit (npi) as full of hate as those you rant against. As far as I can tell, you fear and hate anyone who is pretty much not exactly like you…

  23. Michael says:

    First of all, because what you fail to understand is they don’t care about death. We are dealing with religious fanatics who would welcome it if they caused the west damage…(All in the name of Allah, of course) and consider 100 deaths on their side for every one death on the part of the west, to be a good trade.

    What exactly had Iran ever done to make you think they don’t care about the deaths of their own people, or their republic? When has Iran ever done anything suicidal?

  24. Bithead says:

    Please show a statement by Carter or Pelosi where they say “I am here to negotiate with terrorists”

    He’s stated he plans to go there to ‘speak with’ Hamas, a known terrorist org. Now, unless you’re in denial about Hamas, I fail to see how you can even ask such a question.

    What exactly had Iran ever done to make you think they don’t care about the deaths of their own people, or their republic?

    Read.

  25. Bithead says:

    Better:

    In the 20th century, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran emphasised the importance of martyrdom among Muslims, in the Iranian Revolution he led and later in the Iran-Iraq War his Islamic republic fought against its Arab nationalist neighbor, Iraq. While the sacrifice of lives by large numbers of Iranian youth did not bring victory to Iran, suicide martyrs were much more successful on another occasion, during the devastating civil war between Muslim and Christian militias in Lebanon.

    In October 1983 a suicide truck bomb blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans. American president Ronald Reagan responding by withdrawing all U.S. troops from Lebanon. Thus the killing is said to have “changed the face of terror” [1], creating a new type of shaheed in Islam where “the Mujahid’s death is a necessary and essential part of his act, not just an incidental cost.”

    Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Qaeda and Hiz’b’llah are among some of the jihadist groups that have engaged in “martyrdom operations” since.

    No history of that kind of thing at all, right?

  26. Elmo says:

    Confidence …. in stability, in the region. Will/can only come about with the cessation of Iran’s nuke program. And the likelihood of MooMoo spontaneously joining the rest of us here … in the third millenium, is nil (carelessly discarding decades of clandestine operations and however many billions of dollars).

    Discussions about fallout are all that remain [political and or particulate (how hard will the rain be that falls, and who will bring that rain …)]. Only that moment in time will know. But aproach it does.

    G*d Bless us one, G*d Bless us all.