Tehran Denies Explosion Occurred at Fordo while Israeli Sources Confirm the Event
When we posted on Reza Kahlili’s stunning World Net Daily (WND)story about an alleged massive explosion at the Fordo enrichment facility deep inside a mountain near Qom, we treated it as unconfirmed. We also raised the question of whether Israel might have been involved in a covert action. Meanwhile, the London Times cites Israeli sources confirming something happened there, either an accident or sabotage. Kahlili, who we have interviewed about the Islamic Regime’s nuclear program, is an ex-CIA spy who infiltrated the Revolutionary Guards. Kahlili’s source was Hamid Reza Zakeri, formerly with the Islamic Regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security. He was purportedly a former adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei. Zakeri gave evidence in a German trial in 2004 and the New York Federal Court trial in 2011, Havlish v. bin Laden civil lawsuit , about the Islamic Regime’s links to the al Qaeda perpetrators of 9/11.
According to a source in the security forces protecting Fordo, an explosion on Monday at 11:30 a.m. Tehran time rocked the site, which is buried deep under a mountain and immune not only to airstrikes but to most bunker-buster bombs.
The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran-Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast, the source said. As of Wednesday afternoon, rescue workers had failed to reach the trapped personnel.
[. . ]
The information was passed on to U.S. officials but had not been verified or denied [at the time].
The regime’s defense ministry, which runs the country’s nuclear program, has dispatched the drill team from the Revolutionary Guards Khatam al-Anbia base to the site, the source said, but as of today no progress had been made to reach those trapped within.
According to the source, the regime has enforced a total blackout on the media and the families of the employees who work at the site. The security forces have also created a security zone around the site to control access and manage the rescue efforts.
The WND story took off to become the on-line media buzz twith reports in major Israeli and German dailies, Yediot Aharonot and Die Welt. The London Times published an article with the headline, "Iranian uranium -enriching facility 'is damaged by explosion'". The Times cited Israeli Intelligence sources confirming that an explosion had occurred at the Fordo enrichment site:
Israeli intelligence officials have confirmed that a major explosion has rocked an Iranian nuclear facility, according to a report Monday in The Times of London.
The British daily cited officials in Tel Aviv who said the blast occurred last week, as originally reported on the website wnd.com.
Iran is not believed to have evacuated the area surrounding the Fordo plant, according to the same Israeli sources, who said that an investigation into the blast was ongoing.
“We are still in the preliminary stages of understanding what happened and how significant it is,” one Israeli official told the London Times. He did not know if the explosion was “sabotage or accident” and refused to comment on reports that Israeli aircraft were seen near Fordo at the time of the blast.
The Times of Israel quoted Acting Israeli Defense Minister, Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, saying, “Any explosion in Iran that doesn’t hurt people but hurts its assets is welcome.”
The Jerusalem Post had this comment from Strategic Affairs Minister and Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon in an Israeli Army Radio interview: "in the past we heard about worms and viruses and explosions. Every incident like this delays Iran's nuclear program."
Comments by security officials normally have to pass by military censors in Israel before publication in the dailies and on-line media. A source formerly with the US Intelligence Community suggested that the Die Welt article lent credence to possible independent confirmation. The source further noted that Germany’s BND and Israel’s Mossad share information and have good relations.
As Monday dawned in the Middle East Tehran’s official news agency, IRNA, denied the reports about the alleged Fordo enrichment facility explosion.
There has been no explosion in the Fordo nuclear Facility, the deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Seyyed Shamseddin Barbroudi said on Sunday.
An Iranian MP, in a related IRNA report, suggested this was all a ploy by the West (P5+1) to evade earnest negotiations on Iran’s alleged peaceful use of nuclear energy:
Claim of explosion in Fordo enrichment facility is another [example of]Western propaganda on the occasion of Iran and P5+1 negotiations, the head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Sunday.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
[. . .]
Tehran has dismissed West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iraniansˈ national resolve to continue the path.
Tehran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean [on] International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
A Debka story about an Iranian al QodsForce- Hezbollah convoy that blew up on the Golan noted obliquely the alleged Fordo explosion now dismissed by Tehran. The Debka report closed with an extraordinary event that occurred on Thursday, January 24th in Israel:
Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi ceremonially promoted Col. G., commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal, to the rank of Major General in recognition of his unit’s “outstanding covert operations.”
We mused that the boost in rank for Col. G. could have been bestowed for any number of good reasons. Among them might be Israel's leading role in identifying movement of Syrian CW munitions by the Assad regime, successful incursions inside Gaza during the November2012 eight day rocket war that led to assassination of the Hamas military commander or targeting longer range Iranian supplied Fajr-5 rockets via the Sudan.
Conduct of special ops requires significant intelligence, planning and deployment of assets with the assurance that might succeed.
Notwithstanding the Islamic Regime’s denials to the contrary, even if US, German and Israeli intelligence can obtain independent verifiable reports, we may never the outcome of the Fordo mysterious explosion. The proof that explosion took place can only be confirmed by the rescue or removal of victims or a recording of the event. As in the case of Israel’s dramatic IAF attack that destroyed the Syrian nuclear bomb factory on the banks of the Euphrates River in September 2007, Israel will remain mum. If the mysterious Fordo blast is confirmed it would be a possible setback to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons poised to provide a nuclear umbrella to threaten Israel, US and Sunni antagonists in the Gulf region. Until then the report of the Fordo uranium enrichment destruction remains a case of either an accident or covert sabotage. That awaits corroboration of comments from Israeli sources in the London Times that something significant happened at the Fordo enrichment facility on January 20, 2013 at 11:30AM, Tehran Time.