Seventeen Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) soldiers were killed over the weekend by an explosion in a military base outside of Bidganeh, approximately 25 miles from Tehran. While Iranian authorities have maintained that the explosion was an accident that arose from soldiers moving munitions, its mysterious occurrence has gravely intensified rumors of sabotage.
General Hassan Moghaddam, largely triumphed as the creator of Iran’s missile program, was among those killed in the explosion. Moghaddam’s high-level role in constructing missiles, an essential component to any nuclear program, means his death may pose significant problems to Iran’s controversial race for nuclear armament. It is speculated that if the explosion was intentional, it appears to have been directed towards the Shabab-3 long rage missile which, according to last week’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s report, is the expected vessel for Iran’s nuclear warhead.
A crowd in Tehran carries the coffins of a prominent IRGC general and 16 others killed at a military base explosion.
Iran admitted its computer systems were subjected to a Stuxnet-like virus called Duqu during the time of the explosion. Both Israel and the U.S. stand accused of creating Stuxnet, which destroyed about 1,000 centrifuges at Natanz used to enrich uranium. This, combined with Israel’s history of acting preemptively against neighbors’ nuclear programs, has lead accusatory eyes to fall on the Jewish state. Furthering those rumors, when asked to comment about the weekend’s explosion, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak simply said, “May there be more like it.“
Whether Israel was behind the explosion or not, one thing is for sure: Iran’s relentless acquisition for nuclear capabilities and Israel’s inexorable will to prevent that reality has led to peaked tensions between the two states. And with Iran continuing to increase its threats, it’s hard to imagine this scenario ending peacefully.