'Ex-Iranian official says Mossad behind base blast'

'Guardian' cites unnamed Iranian with ties to the regime echoing allegation made by Western intel official one day earlier.

Coffin of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Jamejam Online/Ebrahim Norouzi)
Coffin of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jamejam Online/Ebrahim Norouzi)
A former head of an Iranian state-run organization with close links to the ruling regime in Tehran accused Israel of being behind the blast at a missile base near the Iranian capital Saturday that killed a top commander of the country's Revolutionary Guards, the London-based Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, the US-based TIME magazine quoted a Western intelligence official making similar allegations.
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"I believe that Saturday's explosion was part of the covert war against Iran, led by Israel," the UK newspaper quoted an unnamed former Iranian official as saying.
Iran has said that the explosion was an accident that occurred as Revolutionary Guard soldiers were moving munitions at the base.
The official alleged that the blast over the weekend and a similar explosion that took place at an Iranian missile base in October of last year "were the work of sabotage by agents of Israel, aimed at halting Iran's missile program," the Guardian reported.
Israel has not issued an official comment on the incident except for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who on Sunday said he would like to see more explosions in Iran. Government officials criticized Barak on Monday and said that like other cabinet ministers, he had been asked to tone down the chatter on Iran.
Last week, Barak also broke with government policy, and in an interview with Israel Radio spoke about the International Atomic Energy Agency report released on Tuesday and the fallout Israel would face if it attacked the Islamic Republic. Israeli government policy has been to stay quiet on the issue, to prevent the world from thinking the nuclear threat is just against Israel.
“We need to remain quiet,” one official said.
TIME cited a Western intelligence source as saying the Mossad was behind the explosion at the Iranian base on Saturday.
“Don’t believe the Iranians that it was an accident,” the official said.
According to the magazine, the unnamed official also said additional acts of sabotage were in the works as part of an effort to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
“There are more bullets in the magazine,” the source was quoted as saying.
The cause of the explosion was unknown and Iran claimed it occurred when soldiers were moving explosives between bases. Barak, interviewed by Army Radio on Sunday, said he did not have details except that there had been an explosion. “May there be more like it,” he added.
Israeli involvement in such an operation would seem unlikely due to the difficulty it would encounter in infiltrating a military base like the one where the explosion took place, and which is believed to be home to Iran’s Shahab long-range ballistic missiles.
It is possible the Mossad, or another Western intelligence agency, used a proxy to carry out the attack. Israel and the US have been accused over the years of working together with various Iranian opposition groups such as the People’s Mujahidin Organization of Iran, otherwise known as MEK.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attended the funerals of Moghadam and the 16 other Revolutionary Guards who died in Saturday’s explosion.
“Martyr Moghadam was the main architect of the Revolutionary Guards’ cannon and missile power and the founder of the deterrent power of our country,” Hossein Salami, the deputy head of the Guards, said in a eulogy at the funeral, state broadcaster IRIB reported.
A veteran of the 1980-88 Iran- Iraq War, Moghadam’s importance was underlined by the appearance of Khamenei at his funeral and a personal visit to his family by Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi to convey President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s condolences.
Reuters contributed to this report.