Satellite images of Iran explosion
November 28th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Satellite images of Iran explosion

By Adam Levine

New satellite imagery shows the extent of damage to the Iranian military compound that blew up earlier this month, was extensively damaged, the Institute for Science and International Security said after an analysis of new satellite imagery.

ISIS compared a November 22 image from DigitalGlobe to one from September.

"Some buildings appear to have been completely destroyed. Some of the destruction seen in the image may have also resulted from subsequent controlled demolition of buildings and removal of debris. There do not appear to be many pieces of heavy equipment such as cranes or dump trucks on the site, and a considerable amount of debris is still present," according to the analysis posted on ISIS website.

Senior defense officials told Barbara Starr on November 17th that the U.S. believes the Iranians were mixing volatile fuel for a rocket motor for a large ballistic missile when the accident occurred.

ISIS concluded the same thing. "Iran was apparently performing a volatile procedure involving a missile engine at the site when the blast occurred," the ISIS analysis noted.

At least 17 people, including a general, died as a result of an explosion on the military base near Tehran, Iranian state media reported at the time of the explosion.


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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • Satellite imagery
U.S. official: Pakistan was called before NATO fired
Pakistani security and government officials offer funeral prayers for the Pakistani soldiers who were killed in a NATO strike in Peshawar on November 27, 2011.
November 28th, 2011
12:14 PM ET

U.S. official: Pakistan was called before NATO fired

By Barbara Starr

A U.S. military-led investigation into a weekend firing incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers is focusing on what failures occurred in the military-to-military coordinating mechanisms that resulted in U.S. aircraft inadvertently killing the troops, according to two senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the initial reporting on the incident.

One of the officials told CNN the initial reporting indicates U.S. and Afghan forces operating on the Afghan side of the border indicated they were coming under fire from shots fired across the border from inside Pakistan. Those troops requested air support from the international coalition, which was then provided by helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft firing from Afghan airspace across into Pakistan.

The official noted that there are strong coordinating mechanisms in these incidents which include NATO and U.S. commanders calling their Pakistani counterparts and also checking with Pakistani liaison officers inside Afghanistan. The official said the U.S. believes the Pakistanis “were called” to warn of the pending firing, but he added “at this point we just don’t know exactly what coordination was done.”

The Pakistani military insisted Monday it had not fired first in the incident, and it said it had told NATO its aircraft were firing on friendly troops. FULL POST

NATO’s perilous Kunar mission
November 28th, 2011
10:27 AM ET

NATO’s perilous Kunar mission

By Tim Lister

The mistaken NATO air attack on Pakistani military outposts at the weekend, in which 24 soldiers were killed, was an accident waiting to happen.

The border between Pakistan and the Afghan province of Kunar is probably the most volatile of the entire 1,500-mile frontier that divides the two countries. It is rugged, remote and home to a variety of insurgent groups – including the Taliban (both Afghan and Pakistani), al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network and the Hezbi Islami Group run by veteran warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In the words of one Afghan analyst, Kunar represents "the perfect storm."

READ also Pakistani-U.S. relations back at the bottom

In addition to the sheer number of insurgents in Kunar, the border with Pakistan – amid peaks and ravines – is not clearly marked, and in some places disputed.

Nor was it the first such accident. On June 10th 2008, US troops and their Afghan allies engaged Taliban fighters some 200 yards inside Afghanistan – along the same stretch of border. Grainy video from a U.S. surveillance drone that day showed a half-dozen Taliban retreating into what the US military said was Pakistani territory. Several air strikes followed using precision bombs. The U.S. military insisted none hit any structure. But Pakistan maintained eleven soldiers were killed and described the attack as "completely unprovoked and cowardly."

That incident took place in daylight; the firefight at the weekend was at night. And since 2008, the border between Kunar and the Pakistani tribal agency of Mohmand has become even more violent. Attempts by U.S. forces to build combat outposts close to the border have provoked firefights lasting several hours; resupply convoys are greeted with roadside IEDs and ambushes. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Haqqani • ISAF • Kunar • Pakistan • Taliban
November 28th, 2011
06:31 AM ET

Pakistan-Afghnanistan-U.S. tension continues

Pakistan's prime minister warned there would be "no more business as usual" with Washington after NATO aircraft killed two dozen Pakistan troops.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Reza Sayah Monday that Pakistan was re-evaluating its relationship with the United States.

He said the South Asian nation wanted to maintain its relationship with the United States as long as there was mutual respect and respect for Pakistani sovereignty.

But Gilani highlighted incidents such as the killing of the Pakistani troops and a U.S. raid into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden as violations of his country's sovereignty.

The prime minister also said Pakistan had not yet decided whether to boycott next month's Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan and Pakistan may be on a course toward military conflict, a top advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CNN on Monday. Ashraf Ghani told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in an excluusive interview that the link between Pakistan and the assassination of a former Afghan president had united his country "against interference."

The explosive comments come as tensions in the region are heightened after a weekend NATO strike accidentally killed Pakistani border troops.

Read Reza and Nick's reporting HERE.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Foreign Policy • Gen. Allen • ISAF • Kabul • Karzai • Military • NATO • Pakistan