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Trump tweets out satellite image of Iranian rocket launch pad that experts say was likely classified


Trump tweets out satellite image of Iranian missile launch pad that experts say was almost certainly classified. (

President Trump on Friday gave away U.S. intelligence secrets on Twitter, say national security experts.

The commander-in-chief tweeted out a picture of an Iranian satellite launch pad, revealing sensitive information that experts said was all but certainly classified.

“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” Trump tweeted along with the photo. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

While the Iranian regime has yet to confirm it, commercial satellite images showed Thursday that a rocket had exploded on the Imam Khomeini Space Center’s pad in the country’s Semnan province, marking the nation’s third failed launch attempt this year.

But, contrary to the commercial satellite pictures, the image Trump thumbed out on Twitter was in such high definition that experts said it was likely taken from an airborne platform, such as a drone.

An aerial image of an Iranian launch site shared by President Trump on Twitter.
An aerial image of an Iranian launch site shared by President Trump on Twitter. (Twitter)

If the U.S. sent a drone over the area, it would be a violation of Iran’s airspace that almost certainly should not be public, national security wonks say.

“This is such a stupid thing to tweet for so many reasons,” tweeted Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

Lewis added his take on the image itself: “You can tell someone just held up a cell phone and snapped it. Look at the flash and arm shadow. At least someone blocked out the classification marking.”

Ryan Goodman, a former Department of Defense special counsel, agreed with Lewis’ assessment and said Trump was shooting himself in the foot by tweeting out such a picture.

“Iran (and other US adversaries) now know spy capabilities (are) included in POTUS briefings,” Goodman tweeted. “Next time Iran claims US drone was over airspace they’ll have a stronger hand.”

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not return a request for comment.

Trump defended his sharing the picture.

“We had a photo and I released it, which I had the absolute right to do,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before departing for a weekend at a presidential resort in Maryland. "We’ll see what happens.”