James ActonWhere is Inshas?

I’m currently doing some reading on nuclear power in the Middle East. As is my (and many Wonk readers) wont I like trying to find the places I read about on Google Earth.

Finding Inshas, Egypt’s nuclear research centre, has been something of a challenge. Indeed, FAS has had similar problems:

The precise location of this facility is uncertain, which is rather peculiar, given that it is a publicly acknowledged and well attested installation.… The NRC Nuclear Fuel Laboratory is located at 30°15’N 31°25’E, according to the IAEA. However, it is evident from TerraServer imagery that these coordinates are incorrect, since there is only empty desert at this location.

With the aid of Google Earth the point identified by the IAEA can be seen to be just north east of the large complex shown in the picture below.

Could this be Inshas? Maybe the IAEA just rounded its figures when reporting the location of Inshas? It’s clearly some kind of industrial complex and the tall building (or should that be box, Jeffrey?) at “30°14’35.97“N, 31°24’49.65“E”::http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/file_download/112/Inshas.kmz
is plausibly a research reactor. But, if it is Inshas, it’s odd that there’s not a single comment from the Google Earth community about this site. Moreover, the site is only 26 km from the centre of Cairo (not 40 km or 60 km as variously reported).

Your thoughts, as always, are welcome…

In other Google Earth news, the docks at Faslane (the UK base where the Vanguard-class boomers are based) are no longer blurred out. I’m not sure when it happened (it’s probably been a year or so since I last looked) but I am pleasantly surprised. Given the UK is a party to the Open Skies Treaty, it was a pretty futile move in the first place.


  1. Geoffrey Forden (History)

    The latitude and longitude listed by FAS as coming from the IAEA are remarkably close to the main entrance of the facility, which is probably the standard for identifying the site’s position.

  2. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    The reactor building is pretty distinctive in ground photographs:



    I just don’t have the time today. Perhaps a motivated reader would like to stare buildings and trees?

  3. siwema (History)

    The MPR/ETRR-2 itself seems to be located here:
    +30° 17’ 34.02” N, +31° 24’ 35.45” E
    4 km to the north of the IAEA coordinates

    This based on the cooling facility pictured both here:
    http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/egypt/facility/mpr-vista16.jpg and here:

    Next to it probably the Fuel Manufacturing Pilot Plant.

  4. peter zimmerman (History)

    “Siwema” has almost unquestionably nailed the site that is in the ground truth photos of the Egyptian reactor. Additional evidence is that it is inside a double-fenced perimeter with a single air-lock style entrance gate (boom in front and in back of an inspection/pass check area).

    The cooling facility is pretty clear as well. But, the planted and landscaped area in


    is missing.

  5. peter zimmerman (History)

    Further examination of the area reveals an Egyptian military airfield at 30deg 20’ 00.11” N, 31deg 25’ 45.89” E. There are six straight-winged transports on the tarmac, two jet fighters near the white-roofed hangar(?), the next structure SW of the blue-roofed building. There are 5 hardened ‘drive thru’ shelters at the SW end of the SW-NE runway (04) and some similar but smaller structures at the W end of runway 09. There are lots of ammunition shelters around the ends of the runways as well.

    At the NE end (Runway 22) there are a further 5 very hard shelters and another 4 that look a bit softer N or the runway, as well as 4 slightly smaller structures SW of the group of 5.

    There is an old, unmarked and disused runway running due N-S. It is heavily cratered with at least six, possibly 7 impacts visible. They may even be due to Israeli attacks in the ’67 or ’73 war (damn good shooting!). There are several vehicles at the S end of this runway and some fairly hard to see shelters near the end.

    I looked for the helipads I would expect to find or some helicopters, but didn’t find any. If any of you do, pls point me to them.

    Well, well. There’s an army facility at 30d 17’31.04N, 31d 25’ 31.16” E! It’s got the expected H-marked helipad, a 1km (long axis) “racetrack” and a 550 meter long by 150m wide building. That is a very large structure.

    The inside area of the racetrack looks as if it could be used for tank practice & training, as it is badly gouged. On what appears to be pavement just inside the S edge of the racetrack there are a 32 objects, conceivably vehicles, but they’re only a couple of meters in size parked in a very regular array lending some credence to the notion that this is an armored forces base of some kind. Modest sized POL facility.

    Both bases are well secured, but not as well as the reactor compound by any means. The army facility is laid out on a fairly rigorous grid, characteristic of almost all armies from Caesar to the present.

    Sorry to go on so long; this is a very rich area for the image analyst with too many targets to look at and too little time. It makes sense, given the military facilities in the neighborhood, for the Egyptians to have put a reactor site here.

    I have not done justice to the interpretation of this fascinating image! My descriptions are by no means complete.


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