Iran has published reports in which it claims to have decoded all data carried by the recently captured ScanEagle drone and the RQ-170 Sentinel drone captured last year. As proof of this decoding, Iran provided descriptions of the missions flown by the surveillance drones. The described mission for the ScanEagle fits well with what would be expected for its use, but the description for the RQ-170 conflicts with widely published accounts in the US media.
The decoding of the mission for the ScanEagle was reported last week, just one day after it was captured:
“Yes, we have fully extracted the drone’s data…,” the IRGC Public Relations Department said on Wednesday, referring to the ScanEagle drone — a long-endurance aircraft built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.
“The drone, in addition to gathering military data, used to pursue gathering data in the field of energy, especially the transfer of oil from Iran’s oil terminals,” the department said.
It said that the capture of the aircraft helps discovery of “what kind of data they (the Americans) are after.”
This report for the ScanEagle fits well with what we were told about the use of ScanEagles in the region when Iran first made the claim of capturing this drone. However, the report today on decoding data from the RQ-170 Sentinel drone captured last year is more confusing: Continue reading
According to Haaertz, the Iranian Fars News Agency is reporting (although I don’t see a story yet at their website or at Mehr News) an explosion in Isfahan, where an Iranian uranium processing facility is located:
A explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city.
It should be noted that Iran operates a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan, one with an important function in the chain of Iran’s nuclear program.
It first went into operation in 2004, taking uranium from mines and producing uranium fluoride gas, which then feeds the centrifuges that enrich the uranium.
The underground centrifuge facility at nearby Natanz was previously attacked by the Stuxnet virus and is seen as perhaps the most important Iranian enrichment facility.
When today’s explosion and the recent death of Hassan Moqaddam, the head of Iran’s missile program, in an explosion of dubious origin while hawks nattered on about the IAEA Iran report, are coupled with the Stuxnet attack, it appears that the Iranian nuclear program is being attacked simultaneously at all points along the path that could lead to a weapon on a missile.
Was today’s explosion an escalation of that battle?