Isfahan is home to Iranian missile and nuclear facilities

Isfahan is one of the historic and most famous cities in Iran, known for its beautiful mosques with turquoise and purple tiles, picturesque arched bridges and the Grand Bazaar. The area is also home to 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 splendid Imam Mosque, topped with onion-shaped domes, and the Ali Qapu Palace. Shah Abbas and his son also built bridges that formed an arch over the Zayanderud River, whose waters filled the fountains outside the palace and mosques, and irrigated their gardens.

This has made the city, which is now home to around two million people, one of Iran's tourist hubs.

Isfahan is also a missile production, research and development center for Iran. That includes the assembly of medium-range Shahab 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 located 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. According to an assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a Russian-made S-300 air defense battery was also spotted in Isfahan.

Last Friday's Israeli attack – which Iranian news agencies said did not hit Isfahan's nuclear facilities – was not the first time the area had been targeted.

In January 2023, Israel carried out a drone strike on a military facility in central Isfahan, according to senior intelligence officials familiar with dialogue between Israel and the United States about the attack. The purpose of the facility was unclear, nor was the damage caused by that attack.

At the time, Iran made no effort to hide the fact that an attack had occurred, but claimed that damage had been minimal. Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reported that the drones had targeted a munitions production plant and were shot down by a surface-to-air defense system.

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