Iran nuclear satellite image-missile base 311 (illustrative).
(photo credit: DigitalGlobe - Institute for Science and Internati)
A mysterious explosion rocked the Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, home to a
key facility in Tehran’s nuclear program.
The source and target of the
explosion were unclear. Some reports claimed that it took place in a military
base and others claimed it was a gas explosion. Isfahan hosts a nuclear facility
involved in processing uranium which is fed to the Natanz fuel enrichment
Iran: Military research caused missile base blast
Two weeks ago, on November 12, an explosion hit an Iranian
military base near the town of Bid Kaneh, killing 17 members of the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Corps and Maj.-Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, chief architect of the
Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program. Israel’s Mossad has been accused
of orchestrating the blast.
On Monday, the Washington, DC-based Institute
for Science and International Security (ISIS) revealed a satellite image of the
military base harmed in the attack two week ago. The image showed extensive
damage to a number of buildings within the compound. ISIS said that the blast
was caused while Iran was apparently performing a procedure involving an engine
for a new missile.
Head of the Military Intelligence Research Directorate
Brig.-Gen. Itay Brun told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on
Monday that the blast at the missile base on November 12 could delay Tehran’s
development of long-range missiles.
“The explosion at the site to develop
surface-to-surface missiles could stop or delay activities on that track and in
that location, but we must emphasize that Iran has other development tracks in
addition to that facility,” Brun said.
Compared to an earlier satellite
image of the site, the image taken after the blast on November 22 shows damage
to most of the buildings in the base.
Some were completely destroyed.
ISIS said that some of the destruction could have been the result of subsequent
controlled demolition of buildings and the removal of debris.
media provided contradictory information about the explosion on
The Fars news agency reported a large blast in the province but
later removed the report from its website.
The Mehr news agency cited
other Iranian news media, which it did not identify, as reporting that a blast
had taken place at a gas station at a town near Isfahan. However, it also quoted
the deputy governor of the province as saying he had no reports of a big
explosion in his region.
“So far, no report of a major explosion has been
heard from any government body in Isfahan,” Deputy Governor Mohammad Mehdi was
quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency.
European Union is preparing new restrictive measures against Iran and shares US
concerns about Tehran’s nuclear program, European Council President Herman Van
Rompuy said on Monday.
Van Rompuy did not offer details of the planned
sanctions in remarks to reporters after a White House meeting with President
Barack Obama and other top US officials.
In a joint statement issued
after the meeting, the US and EU said they shared “deep concern” about the
possible military dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear pursuits.
“We stress our
determination to ensure that Iran complies with its obligations, including
abiding by United Nations Security Council resolutions, and to cooperate fully
with the IAEA to address the international community’s serious concerns over the
nature of its nuclear program,” the statement read.Reuters contributed
to the report.