Blast at Iranian facility may be linked to Kurdish unrest

Base stores medium-range Shihab-3 ballistic missiles, expert tells ‘Post’; Iran won't admit inability to control Kurdish minority.

shibab 3 missile 311 (photo credit: AP)
shibab 3 missile 311
(photo credit: AP)
An explosion that ripped through an Revolutionary Guards Corps. base last week in western Iran, killing 18 soldiers, has attracted international attention because the site is reportedly used to store medium-range Shihab-3 missiles.
According to the Global Security website, the Imam Ali base is situated in a mountain pass and is run by the Al-Hadid Brigade, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Command Missile Force.
“The missile launching sites are mobile and hidden in the heights,” the website said.
The blast, which occurred on Wednesday, one day before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Lebanon for a two-day visit, is noteworthy because it occurred at the missile storage site, Iran analyst Professor Raymond Tanter, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.
Tanter, who served on the National Security Council staff for the Reagan-Bush White House, added, however, that “the bombing may have to do less with international intrigue than ethnic unrest against Persian domination of minorities in Iran. The base is close to Iran’s Kurdistan region, where there have been several earlier attacks against IRGC facilities.”
Iranian authorities said that the blast was caused by a fire that broke out in an ammunition storage room.
“To admit inability to control the Iranian Kurdish minority, seven percent of the Iranian population, would be an invitation to other minorities to sense Teheran is weak and to increase their own assaults against the regime,” Tanter said.
Fourteen soldiers were hospitalized in Khoramabad, 500 km. southwest of Teheran, after the blast, Iranian state media said last week.
The region has seen several attacks in recent months by Kurds disgruntled with the central government.