Iran

Experts: New Iran Base “Most Likely Used for Testing Ballistic Missiles”

Jane’s Defense Weekly this week published new satellite imagery showing that Iran has built a new rocket launch site. The purpose of the site, according to experts, is not in doubt:

Analysts said the unfinished site 25 miles south east of the city of Shahrud has no storage for the liquid rocket fuel used in the Iranian space programme, suggesting it is built for ballistic missiles using solid fuel. Matthew Clements, editor of the assessments, said: “This site could be a facility for launching satellites into orbit. However, Iran is already building at least one other site for this purpose and, looking at the satellite imagery we have got, we believe that this facility is most likely used for testing ballistic missiles.

Analysts specifically cited the facility’s location as a key indicator that it was designed for long-range missile tests:

“Its location and orientation would be suitable for long-range missile tests as they would fly over Iranian territory for 870 miles, meaning large quantities of flight data could be gathered before they drop into the Indian Ocean. “At the same time, we can’t see any storage facilities for the liquid fuel needed for the rockets that launch satellites, suggesting it will be used for solid-fuel ballistic missiles.” He said there was no indication the Shahrud base was a nuclear facility.

The Jane’s report comes weeks after the publication of a Pentagon report assessing that Tehran may develop missiles capable of striking the United States by 2015. The Iranian regime is also widely suspected – including by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog group – of having used its Parchin facility to conduct research into developing nuclear warheads.

Iran’s progress in bolstering its missile program has been met regionally by similar advances within Sunni states.

[Photo: jurvetson / Flickr]