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Iran's secret missile launch site pinpointed: report

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) April 11, 2008
The secret site of Iran's first space centre, opened with a recent missile launch, has been pinpointed by Jane's, the defence group said Friday, adding that it resembled facilities in North Korea.

The site of the February 4 launch is a possible location for Tehran's continued long-range missile programme, Jane's Information Group added.

They studied pictures obtained from imagery provider Digital Globe's QuickBird satellite on February 8, and compared it with launch footage.

The Iranian Kavoshgar 1 missile launch was a successful test, but the technology was no more advanced than the Iranian intermediate-range Shahab 3 missile, Jane's said.

"Iranian statements claim that this recent launch was of a two-stage missile which would indicate a significant enhancement in Iran's capabilities.

"However, closer inspection of the footage from the launch shows it to be a single-stage, liquid-propelled missile," it said.

Space centres historically have required technology identical to a long-range ballistic missile capability, said the group.

"Analysis by Jane's has identified several developments at this site since the most recent open source imagery was taken in September 2004," Jane's said.

"Jane's has identified facilities at this site similar in size and form to the Taepodong assembly facility in North Korea.

It said the associated facilities indicate that the site could be where Iran may be pursuing a solid-propellant missile capability.

"This analysis suggests that Tehran is following the same path in its missile programme as North Korea and identifies a previously unidentified location as an important element in it," said Jane's proliferation editor Avital Johanan.

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