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Iran Missile Site Destroyed (PHOTOS)

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IRAN
November 22, 2011 commercial satellite image showing extensive damage at a military base in Iran resulting from a November 12, 2011, explosion. Most of the buildings on the compound are extensively damaged or destroyed. (DigitalGlobe - Institute for Science and International Security) | Digital Globe/ISIS

On November 12, an explosion ripped apart buildings at an Iranian missile base near Bid Kaneh. Although it remains unclear whether the site was sabotaged or -- as Iranian officials claim -- merely damaged in an accident, new images have emerged showing the the base before and after the explosion.

The Institute for Science and International Security issued a statement on the blast, noting that it occurred "as Iran had achieved a major milestone in the development of a new missile."

The Guardian reported that the blast was so powerful it rattled windows in Tehran, 30 miles away. 17 Revolutionary Guards were killed, including Major General Hassan Moghaddam, the "architect" of Iran's missile program.

According to AFP, a Guards spokesman said the explosion happened as "ammunition was taken out of the depot and was being moved outside toward the appropriate site." However, General Moghaddam's brother reportedly told an Iranian newspaper that the blast occurred during testing of an intercontinental missile.

Some have speculated that Moghaddam, who was instrumental in Iran's missile program, was targeted by Israel's intelligence agency Mossad. According to The Guardian, "Western officials would not comment on the claims, but would not rule out Israeli involvement." A Western intelligence source warned Time Magazine not to heed Iran's claims that the explosion was accidental. "Don't believe the Iranians that it was an accident," he said.

Below, satellite images from before and after the blast show damage to the site:

BEFORE: September 9, 2011
2011-11-29-before.jpg
GeoEye via Google Earth

AFTER: November 22, 2011
2011-11-29-after.jpg
DigitalGlobe - Institute for Science and International Security

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