Reports on October 6 that an explosion had killed two and destroyed buildings at Iran’s Parchin nuclear plant east of Tehran have been confirmed by satellite imagery obtained by Israel’s Channel 2 and Israel Defense magazine. Parchin is thought to be involved in Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, and the country has denied UN nuclear inspectors access to the site.
The base lies at the centre of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.
Images from the French satellite Pleiades the morning following the blast showed that several buildings at the location sustained heavy damage and some had even collapsed, according to the Israeli sources. The photos “clearly show damage consistent with an attack against bunkers in a central locality within the military research complex at the Parchin military compound,” Israel Defense wrote.
Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported on October 6 that an explosion occurred at a defence ministry plant east of Tehran involved in the production of explosives. The Defense Industries Organisation, quoted by IRNA, said the fire broke out at the plant on Sunday night but it gave no further details.
The BBC, citing a report from the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), said that the incident happened in an “explosive materials production unit” at the site south-east of the capital Tehran. According to ISNA, the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for purely civilian uses. Israel and the West fear Iran is seeking to attain nuclear weapons.
Although this incident could have been an industrial accident, there have been a number of past sabotage attempts on facilities involved in Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons, including the Stuxnet computer virus which disrupted uranium enrichment facilities. Several key Iranian scientists involved in the programme have also come to an untimely end.