The blast affected a new Natanz centrifuge production plant

AP –

Tehran.- A fire and a explosion on Thursday affected a building above the Iranian underground uranium enrichment facility of Natanz. Analysts in the United States identified the facility as a new centrifuge production plant.

The Iranian atomic energy organization tried to downplay the event, calling it an « incident » that affected only one « industrial shed » under construction, spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, but both Kamalvandi and nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi quickly moved on. to Natanz, which has been the target of sabotage operations in the past.

Kamalvandi did not identify the cause of the damage. The governor of NatanzRamazanali Ferdowsi said a « fire » occurred at the scene, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. The state agency IRNA published a comment that there was a possibility of sabotage by enemy countries like Israel and the United States after other recent explosions in the country.

« The Islamic Republic of Iran so far it has tried to prevent the intensification of crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations, « says the comment. » But the crossing of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the United States, means that … that strategy must be reviewed. « 

A photo later released by the atomic energy agency and video on state TV showed a brick building with traces of burns and a destroyed roof. Debris on the floor and a door apparently ripped from its hinges possibly indicate that there was a explosion in addition to the flames.

Data collected by a satellite from the United States National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that the fire broke out around 2 a.m. local time in the northwestern corner of the Natanz. The flames were so bright that the satellite could detect them from space.

« There are physical and financial damages that we are investigating to assess, » Kamalvandi told Iranian state TV. « Also, work on the enrichment site has not been interrupted. Thank goodness the site continues to work as before. »

The site of the fire corresponds to a new centrifuge production facility, said Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey, California. He said he used satellite images and a state TV program about the facility to identify the property in the northwestern corner of Natanz.