New Iran Nuclear Plant Blast 'No Accident': Report

By Haaretz

Published November 30, 2011.

A mysterious blast which reportedly rocked Isfahan in western Iran on Monday damaged a key nuclear facility in the city, the Times of London reported on Wednesday.

On Monday, Haaretz sited Iranian media as reporting that an explosion was heard near Isfahan, home to a uranium conversion plant operational since 2004.

According to reports by the semi-official Fars news agency, frightened residents called the fire department after the blast, forcing the city authorities to admit there had been an explosion. Residents reported that their windows shook from the explosion’s force.

At first, Iranian officials denied the reports, with the governor of Isfahan later alleging that the blast was caused by an accident that had occurred during a nearby military drill.

However, a report in the Times on Wednesday 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.

The Isfahan plant 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.

For more, go to Haaretz.com



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