Isfahan Is Home to Iranian Missile and Nuclear Facilities

Isfahan is one of Iran’s most famous and historic cities, known for its beautiful turquoise and purple tiled mosques, picturesque arched bridges and Grand Bazaar. The area also hosts a number of Iranian military sites.

In the early 17th century, Shah Abbas I, known as Abbas the Great, of the Safavid Dynasty, set to work creating a showpiece in Isfahan. He built the country’s most famous mosques, including the stunning Imam Mosque, capped by onion-shaped domes, and the Ali Qapu Palace. Shah Abbas and his son also built bridges to arch over the Zayanderud River, whose waters filled the fountains outside the palace and the mosques, and irrigated their gardens.

That has made the city, home to roughly two million people today, one of the tourist centers of Iran.

Isfahan is also a center of missile production, research and development for Iran. That includes the assembly of Shahab medium-range missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond. And it is the site of four small nuclear research facilities, all supplied by China many years ago.

The Natanz uranium enrichment site is also in Isfahan Province, along with an air base that has long hosted Iran’s fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcats — purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to The Associated Press. A Russian-made S-300 air defense battery has also been seen in Isfahan, according to an assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Israeli attack early on Friday — which Iranian news agencies said had not hit Isfahan’s nuclear facilities — was not the first time the area has been targeted.

In January 2023, Israel carried out a drone attack on a military facility in the middle of Isfahan, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the strike. The facility’s purpose was not clear, and neither was how much damage that attack caused.

At the time, Iran made no effort to hide the fact that an attack had happened but said it had done little damage. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, reported that the drones had targeted an ammunition manufacturing plant and that they had been shot down by a surface-to-air defense system.

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