Eight killed in mysterious blast at Iranian steel plant

Explosion occurred in Yazd, a city where reports have indicated the existence of covert nuclear facilities.

Amatuer video of blast in Iran 311 (photo credit: Press TV)
Amatuer video of blast in Iran 311
(photo credit: Press TV)
A mysterious explosion took place in a steel factory in Iran overnight Sunday, killing eight people, the latest in a series of blasts that have rocked the Islamic Republic over the last month.
The deaths occurred in an explosion and subsequent fire at a steel factory in the central Iranian province of Yazd, Iran’s IRIB news agency quoted Yazd Governor Azizollah Seifi as saying on Monday. He said some of those killed were foreign nationals.
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The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear but reports over the years have indicated the existence of covert nuclear facilities in the city of Yazd and its surrounding areas.
On Monday night, an Iranian parliament member said the blast was caused by old munitions that were caught up and recycled together with scrap metal at the facility.
While there was no evidence available to support this possibility, Iran has used seemingly innocent civilian factories before to hide its illicit nuclear activity.
Some reports have claimed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps had built underground nuclear facilities in the Yazd region. The Iranians are known to have a mine there used to extract raw uranium and that a nearby facility is where the uranium is turned into yellowcake, a key component in the nuclear fuel cycle.
It is possible the steel facility was strictly a steel facility without a military or nuclear application.
It is also possible though that the factory manufactured steel parts for missiles or even centrifuges, used to enrich uranium. In either case, sabotaging such a facility could contribute to efforts aimed at delaying Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
The blast on Sunday night came after, last month, a mysterious explosion took place in the city of Isfahan, which is home to a nuclear facility involved in processing uranium fed to the Natanz fuel enrichment facility.
The London Times reported the explosion had damaged the nuclear facility but the Institute for Science and International Security in the US published satellite images that showed extensive work underway at the facility, but not damage from an explosion.
Two weeks earlier, 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.