Israeli intelligence officials confirmed that an explosion
damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich
uranium, The Sunday Times reported.
to the report, an Israeli official said the country is still in the
"preliminary stages of understanding what happened and how significant
it is." The Times quoted the official as saying he did not know if the explosion was "sabotage or accident."
The Times said the official refused to comment on reports that Israeli aircraft were seen near the facility at the time of the explosion.
Israel believes Iran has not evacuated the surrounding area, the Times reported.
to the original report of the mysterious blast, penned by former
Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Reza Kahlili, for the WND.com website, the
explosion “destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240
personnel deep underground.”
The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the veracity of the report.
Iran denied the reports describing them as "Western propaganda" designed to influence upcoming nuclear negotiations.
"The false news of an explosion at Fordow is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence their process and outcome," state news agency IRNA quoted the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Saeed Shamseddin Bar Broudi, as saying late on Sunday.
The IRNA report also quoted the head of parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, strongly denying there had been an explosion.
According to the WND report, the explosion
“destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel
Commenting on the alleged blast, Strategic Affairs Minister and Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon said Monday that "every incident like this delays Iran's nuclear program."
In an interview with Army Radio, Ya'alon refused to comment specifically on reports of a mysterious explosion at Fordow, and said that he had only
"read about it in the newspaper."
who says he turned CIA agent in the 1980s and 90s, cited a “source in
the security forces protecting Fordow” as saying that the blast occurred
last Monday at Fordow, which is located deep inside a mountain to
protect it from aerial attack.
“The blast shook facilities within
a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic
radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran- Qom highway was shut down for
several hours after the blast,” the report added.
existence of the Fordow enrichment plant was kept secret by Iran, until
it was discovered by Western intelligence in 2009, and the question of
how long it had been in operation remains unanswered.
Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at
the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, noted on
Sunday that Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent at Fordow, “and it
raises concerns because it is buried deep in a mountain.”
added, “There have been many references to the fact that Israel doesn’t
have strong enough bombs to penetrate it from the air, but the US MOP
[massive ordnance penetrator] is reported to be able to penetrate it.”
Landau added that reports surfaced six months ago saying that the MOP is operational.
The shutting down of Fordow is one of the three demands made on Iran by the P5+1 nations during talks with the Islamic Republic.
to a 2011 IAEA report, Iran is testing detonators for nuclear blasts at
its secret base in Parchin, and has refused to allow UN inspectors
access to the site.
Yaakov Lappin and reuters contributed to this report.