By Stephen Shankland CNET News
Posted on ZDNet News: Sep 28, 2009 5:59:32 AM
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 overall view of the Iranian site. The mountain under which the site is built is to the lower right of the image. Click to enlarge. (Credit: GeoEye satellite image/IHS Jane's analysis)
This view shows what IHS Jane's says are ventilation shafts and a possible auxiliary exit from the nuclear site. (Credit: GeoEye satellite image/IHS Jane's analysis)
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.
At lower left in this shot is the main entrance to the facility; near it and to the upper right are two auxiliary access areas, according to an interpretation of the photo by IHS Jane's. Click to enlarge. (Credit: GeoEye satellite image/IHS Jane's analysis)
This article was originally posted on CNET News.