A team of California-based weapons researchers stumbled on a series of clues that led them to conclude that Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, an Iranian scientist who had been killed in a 2011 explosion that destroyed Iran’s Bid Kaneh long-range missile research facility, was also running another secret facility in the remote Iranian desert which they believe continues to operate to this day, the NY Times reported Wednesday.
The researchers examined satellite photos of the facility, concluding that the work there is being conducted mostly at night, and appears to focus on advanced rocket engines and rocket fuel.
An analysis of the grounds and structures of the remote facility “strongly suggests” it is developing technology for long-range missiles, according to the report. When completed, Iran could threaten Europe and even the United States with its ICBM war heads.
The Times consulted five outside experts who reviewed the findings independently and agreed there’s compelling evidence that Iran is developing long-range missile technology.
IRGC Major General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam was a ballistic missile aerospace Engineer, the founder and main architect and designer of the Iranian ballistic missile project. He sought the expertise and blueprint designs from North Korea in order to help develop Iran’s missile technology, and designed the Shahab, Ghadr and Sejjil missiles with an operational range of more than 1,250 miles, specifically to use against Israel.
The researchers, based at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., discovered the Iranian facility after Fabian Hinz, a young research fellow, proposed studying recent Iranian state media material on the late General Moghaddam, to see if it contained clues about Iran’s missile program. Judging by offhand remarks from the late General’s colleagues and relatives cited by Iranian media, it appeared that his work had quietly continued, the NY Time reported.
Hinz also found a 2017 post by an Iranian journalists association, with photo of General Moghaddam alongside a top lieutenant and a box marked “Shahrud.” Shahrud is the name of a town 25 miles from the site of a single missile test-launch that took place in 2013, and which had been considered dormant. But a timeline examination of satellite images of the site showed a steady growth in the number of buildings at the facility, and they were painted “a striking aquamarine.” Aquamarine happened to be General Moghaddam’s favorite color, who used it to paint all the structures under his command.
The researchers found in satellite images of a crater in the area around Shahrud, what they described as two “telltale ground scars,” both recent: one from 2016, the other June 2017. The researchers believe these are concrete stands that supported the tested engines. They say the 2017 test used a 370 ton stand, suggesting the engine powered up to 90 tons of thrust — enough for an intercontinental ballistic missile.