IRAN EXPLOSION? – AT 8:45 A.M. ET: This story has been getting major play internationally, but we stress that there is no independent confirmation. From The Times of London:
An explosion is believed to have damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich uranium, Israeli intelligence officials have told The Times. Sources in Tel Aviv said yesterday that they thought the explosion happened last week. The Israeli Government is investigating reports that it led to extensive structural damage and 200 workers had been trapped inside.
Israel believes the Iranians have not evacuated the surrounding area. It is unclear whether that is because no harmful substances have been released, or because Tehran is trying to avoid sparking panic among residents.
From the Jerusalem Post:
Iranian dissident-turned CIA operative Reza Kahlili told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that an alleged blast at the Fordow nuclear installation in Iran is "the largest case of sabotage in decades."
Although it has not yet been verified, a report by Kahlili, according to which a massive blast rocked Iran's key Fordow nuclear installation last week, continued to spread on Monday.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization has dismissed reports of an explosion as "Western propaganda," while The Sunday Times cited Israeli intelligence figures as confirming the claim.
Speaking to the Post on Monday, Khalili expressed confidence that the alleged blast will receive "further coverage in the US," and that "more information" will become available to verify the incident.
COMMENT: We'll follow this. It's unlikely that Iran would confirm a major act of sabotage, especially if it did significant damage. That, however, doesn't guarantee that the story is true.
Fordow is a major facility, and its disruption would be a serious setback to the Iranian program.
January 28, 2013