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Nuclear site under construction in Iran: Janes produces ground-breaking data-driven study in partnership with Stanford

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LONDON (7 July 2021) - Janes, the trusted global agency for open-source defence intelligence, has worked in partnership with the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, California; the global monitoring company BlackSky; and the data analysis company Orbital Insight to produce a comprehensive assessment of a nuclear site under construction in Iran using next-generation ‘structured observation management’ techniques.

In the Janes Intelligence Review study, the new site – a likely underground centrifuge assembly facility located southwest of Iran’s existing Uranium Enrichment Complex at Natanz – was analysed between mid-2020 and early 2021 to enable an assessment of the pace of construction. The study applied next-generation ‘structured observation management’ techniques to enable large amounts of data to be collected and interpreted, and then processed as intuitive visualisations.

In this ground-breaking data-driven study, Janes has for the first time used high-cadence satellite imagery from BlackSky, notably ‘burst imagery’ that allows a rapid succession of intra-minute images to be spliced together as a single, video-style animation. Further collaboration with Orbital Insight provided AI-driven machine-learning software to enable the automated identification and processing of ground targets. The analysis was further enhanced by structured observation over time of road network construction and spoil piles.

“The resulting study concludes that construction progressed rapidly at the new underground facility at Natanz South following an explosion at Iran’s main centrifuge assembly hall in July 2020. However, by March 2021 there were indications of a slowdown, suggesting that some underground excavation might nearly be complete,” said Robert Munks, Editor of Janes Intelligence Review and Principal at Janes. “The new facility will continue to be a high priority for open-source intelligence (OSINT) analysis as Iran’s nuclear programme advances under President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi, and multi-source studies – such as the collaboration between Janes and – CISAC will continue to be vital to monitor further progress.”

The full analysis is available online to Janes subscribers via Janes Intelligence Review (Vol 33. No 8).

News media contact: communications@janes.com | +44 (0) 20 3997 6595

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