The image of the compound, near the city of Malard, doesn’t provide any clues as to what caused the Nov. 12 explosion, which Iranian authorities described as an “accident” involving the transport of ammunition. But it does make clear that the facility has been effectively destroyed.
(For comparison’s sake, see below for a satellite image taken in September.)
Paul Brannan, a senior analyst for the Institute for Science and International Security, which specializes in the study of nuclear weapons programs, said it’s impossible to tell from the image whether the blast was caused by sabotage, as has has been speculated in this explosion and others at transport facilities, oil refineries and military bases in Iran.
When performing work with missiles, there are a variety of “volatile processes” that could cause an explosion, Brannan said.
Brannan said ISIS had recently learned from “knowledgable officials” that the blast had 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.”
As with the cause of the blast, the nature of that milestone is unclear.
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