Iran: Military research caused missile base blast

Armed forces chief of staff denies explosion that killed 17 Revolutionary Guard troops had any link "to Israel or America."

Amatuer video of blast in Iran 311 (photo credit: Press TV)
Amatuer video of blast in Iran 311
(photo credit: Press TV)
TEHRAN - A massive explosion that killed 17 troops including an officer regarded as the architect of Iran's missile defenses last week took place during research on weapons that could strike Israel, the armed forces chief of staff said on Wednesday.
Hassan Firouzabadi, quoted by the student news agency ISNA, denied that Israeli or US sabotage was to blame.
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"This recent incident and blast has no link to Israel or America but the outcome of the research, of which the incident happened as a consequence, could be a strong smack to the mouth of Israel and its occupying regime," he said.
Iranian news sites identified one of the dead as Brig.- Gen. Hassan Moghadam, a top IRGC officer responsible for the development of some of Iran’s most advanced weapons. The explosion took place inside a base called Bid Ganeh, west of Tehran, which is reportedly used to manufacture and store Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles.
The cause of the explosion was unknown and Iran claimed it occurred when soldiers were moving explosives between bases. There was some speculation on Sunday that sabotage had caused the blast and Israel was involved with the assistance of local Iranian opposition groups.
It was not the first time that mysterious explosions struck in Iran. In recent years, a number of scientists have been killed in car bombings and dozens of IRGC officers have also been killed in various plane crashes.
On Wednesday, a roadside bomb blew up near a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims in northern Baghdad, killing at least two people and wounding 18 others, security and hospital sources said.
The bus was attacked as the pilgrims returned from a visit to a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in the city of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of the Iraqi capital.
Iraqi security forces are trying to quell a stubborn Sunni Muslim insurgency more than eight years after the US-led invasion that ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.