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Iranian Explosion, Take 2

Erin Dwyer

Another mysterious explosion at a nuclear facility in Iran occurred this past Monday in the city of Isfahan, mirroring the blast that killed 17 Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps soldiers on a military base outside of Bidganeh just two weeks ago.

Local government officials offered conflicting explanations, telling some news agencies that the explosion was a result of a military drill while informing others it came from a gas depot. Isfahan Governor Alireza Zaker-Isfahani from the outset denied that the incident was linked to his city’s nuclear site, home to Iran’s uranium conversion facility and necessary for furthering Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Iranian security personnel inside the Uranium Conversion Facility

Iran’s Fars news agency, one of the first on the scene, reported an explosion at 2:40pm and quoted the deputy governor, Mehdi Ismaili, who confirmed a sound heard across the city. The statement also included a picture showing a thick column of black smoke. The report was later removed from the site, which is affiliated with the country’s Revolutionary Guards, and Ismaili was quoted by the IRNA news agency as calling the reports “sheer lies.”

But since then, satellite imagery has confirmed that Isfahan’s uranium facility was hit with an explosion Monday, as the images clearly show pillars of smoke and destruction. Israeli intelligence officials also told the UK Times that the blast at Isfahan was “no accident” and Israel’s Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor was quoted as saying: “There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.”

The following day, perhaps coincidentally, a small terrorist group operating in Lebanon fired four rockets into northern Israel for the first time since 2009. Iran is known to support Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as smaller pro-Palestinian groups. Could the rockets be a message from Iran to Israel to leave its nuclear facilities alone?

Whatever the case may be, the unsolved explosions in Iran are adding up. And one thing’s for sure: It’s not a good time to be a nuclear engineer in Iran.