January 18, 2020, 5:39

Before and after satellite photos show Iranian rocket explosion on launch pad

Before and after satellite photos show Iranian rocket explosion on launch pad

Commercial satellite images have captured the smoky aftermath of an Iranian rocket exploding on a launch pad in northern Iran. Satellite pictures taken earlier this week indicated that Iran was preparing the launch pad for a test of a missile system.

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The Iranian government did not publicly disclose any details about the rocket’s explosion on Thursday. The rocket was apparently being readied to launch a satellite into orbit.

A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that the Iranian rocket had exploded at the launch pad located at the at the Imam Khomeini Space Center. The official said it was unclear if the explosion occurred while the missile was being fueled or shortly after a failed launch.

(MORE: Pompeo blames Iran for attack on 2 tankers in Gulf of Oman, US details evidence)

Planet Lab satellite images taken on Tuesday showed preparations at the launch facility that included a fresh coat of blue paint for the circular launch pad.

Planet Labs Inc.

A satellite image released by Planet Labs Inc., shows shows a rocket launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran, Aug. 27, 2019.

Images taken by Planet Labs Inc. and Maxar on Thursday showed dark smoke billowing from what appears to be the burnt remains of the rocket. Additional burn marks could be spotted on the launch pad that appears to have lost half of its recent paint job.

The explosion would be the third failure this year that Iran has experienced in preparing to launch a rocket.

(MORE: Trump warns Iran not to threaten US: ‘If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran’)

Iran often carries out ballistic missile testing within its own territory, in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution that secured the 2015 nuclear agreement that the United States and other global powers reached with Iran.

Copyright 2019 Maxar Technologies

A satellite image from Maxar’s WorldView-2 satellite released on Aug. 29, 2019, shows smoke rising from a rocket launch site at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran.

That resolution specifically “called upon” Iran from carry out testing of ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons. Iran has said that language is not a ban on such testing and that it is still allowed to conduct ballistic missile testing for conventional weapons.

Last December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran’s test of a medium-range ballistic missile he said was capable of carrying multiple warheads and was a violation of that resolution.

Sourse: abcnews.go.com

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