The 21st Century Phenomenon



An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan, on Monday 11/28/2011 at about 14:30 local time, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city. Search and rescue teams called to the scene confirmed the blast, but as of yet no injuries have been reported.

It should be noted that Iran operates a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan, one with an important function in the chain of Iran’s nuclear program.

It first went into operation in 2004, taking uranium from mines and producing uranium fluoride gas, which then feeds the centrifuges that enrich the uranium. Since 2004, thousands of kilograms of uranium flouride gas were stockpiled at Isfahan and subsequently sent to the enrichment plant in Natanz.

The reported incident occurred about two weeks after Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other Guard members, on 11/12/201, at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran. The Revolutionary Guard said the accidental explosion occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions (see – Bidganeh 11.12.11).

According to the report, a security official confirmed that the explosion had occurred, but refused to give further details. The district’s security department head Muhammad Mahdi Ismaili said “we have no exact information; the incident is being investigated.”

Alireza Zakeri, the provincial governor of Isfahan, was quoted as saying that the blast took place during military exercises at a military airbase. “An explosion has happened in Isfahan relates to a military exercise in one part of the city and is not particularly any problem,” he said. “The exercise has been in the 8th Airbase and around the airport in north east of Isfahan but the authorities had not informed us about it in advance so that we could have let the public know about it happening”.

Gholamreza Ansari, the head of the judiciary in the province, also confirmed there was a blast. The Mehr news agency however reported that the blast was at a fuel facility. There were no reports of casualties.

Confusion was compounded by the withdrawal of the original report on Fars, a news outfit linked to the Revolutionary Guards, which first reported the blast.

* A report in the Sunday Times, on Wednesday  11/30/2011, alleged that the blast had not been a military accident, and that the city’s nuclear facility was damaged. The report quotes Israeli intelligence officials who based their conclusion on updated satellite images showing smoke billowing from the direction of the conversion plant.

According to the Israeli sources, there was “no doubt” that the blast had damaged the nuclear facility, and that the explosion was not an “accident.”

“This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials,” one source told the Sunday Times.

 ** It must be noted that the Times report was not confirmed by any other source but the Times proved itself many times in the past as cautious and very reliable. 


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