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Satellite image-led project, exclusive embed puts AP ahead on Iran coverage

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AP’s Gulf and Iran New Director, Jon Gambrell, used sophisticated imaging technology, expert analysis and longtime source building to deliver a series of exclusive stories on Iran’s nuclear program and America’s response to it. The stories dominated coverage internationally, over four days.  

In tandem with the investigative team’s new grants on nuclear security, Gambrell broke a story about an underground facility at Iran’s Natanz nuclear site likely being out of reach of the U.S.’ “Mass Ordnance Penetrator” bomb — a weapon designed specifically to take out such sites. He also filed a companion story about the bomb being publicized by the U.S. Air Force with imagery that for the first time showed the explosive makeup of the weapon.  

Using satellite imagery from Planet Labs PBC, Gambrell also narrated the AP’s findings in an online video. The AP’s questions about imagery and its implications led to the Air Force taking down the imagery.

Days earlier, Gambrell filed text, photos and videos on his own from an exclusive embed he secured with the U.S. Navy on the USS Paul Hamilton in the Strait of Hormuz. Gambrell’s cross-format exclusive broke news about the U.S., Britain and France’s involvement.

The stories were among the top-read stories on AP digital platforms and strongly resonated with Middle East clients. The AP was cited for the exclusive widely.

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