Iran’s mysterious series of blasts continues

An explosion killed two people Tuesday at a factory south of Tehran.
Tuesday 07/07/2020
A woman reacts at the site of an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran, June 30, 2020. (Reuters)
A woman reacts at the site of an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran, June 30, 2020. (Reuters)

TEHRAN - An explosion killed two people Tuesday at a factory south of Iran’s capital, state media reported, blaming human error for the latest in an unexplained string of blasts in the Islamic Republic.

The official IRNA news agency said that three more people were injured in the pre-dawn explosion, days after an accident caused major damage at a nuclear complex.

Tuesday’s blast in an industrial zone in Baqershahr, 23 kilometres (14 miles) from Tehran, was caused by “workers being negligent whilst filling oxygen tanks,” it quoted the town’s governor as saying.

“The explosion… was so powerful that the walls of the Saipapress factory nearby were also totally destroyed,” Amin Babai said, without giving details on the function of the factory.

The incident took place inside the Oxijen factory at 3:03am local time (2233 GMT Monday), an emergency services spokesperson told AFP, adding that two of those wounded had been admitted to the hospital.

Iranian people and security members gather at the cordoned-off scene of an explosion at the Sina At’har health centre in the upmarket northern neighbourhood of Tajrish in the capital Tehran on July 1. (AFP)
Iranian people and security members gather at the cordoned-off scene of an explosion at the Sina At’har health centre in the upmarket northern neighbourhood of Tajrish in the capital Tehran on July 1. (AFP)

Babai said that “firefighters had been on the scene” since shortly after the explosion and “prevented further fires and explosions.”

It was the latest in a series of explosions to have hit the Tehran area and a key nuclear site in the past few weeks.

On June 30, a powerful blast hit a health centre in an upmarket northern Tehran neighbourhood, killing 19 people and damaging nearby buildings.

The fire service blamed a blaze that had set light to gas canisters.

It came days after a gas tank explosion near a military complex east of the capital, which authorities said caused no casualties.

Then on July 2, the country’s atomic energy agency reported that an “accident” had damaged a warehouse under construction at the Natanz nuclear site, some 250 kilometres (150 miles) south of Tehran.

It later said there had been “significant” damage at the complex, one of the country’s main uranium enrichment plants.

The organisation released a photo of a building apparently damaged by fire at Natanz, with doors hanging off hinges after they appeared to have been blown outwards.

On Friday, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council announced that the “cause of the accident” at Natanz had been “accurately determined”.

A firefighter helps an injured woman at the site of an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran, June 30. (Reuters)
A firefighter helps an injured woman at the site of an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran, June 30. (Reuters)

It declined to give further details, citing security reasons.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation on Tuesday denied “false allegations by counter-revolutionary elements in the media of an explosion” at another nuclear plant in Ardakan around 450 kilometres southeast of Tehran.

“Nothing happened” at the yellow-cake production plant, it said in a statement.

The rumours are aimed at creating “despair” and supporting the campaign of “maximum pressure of the Great Satan (the United States),” the Iranian atomic energy agency said.

The steak of incidents goes back to a number of months. Iran has recorded several incidents affecting nuclear facilities, oil refineries, power plants and industrial sites. The incidents included an explosion at a facility for ballistic missiles in Khojir, close to Parchin, near Tehran and a fire at a power plant in Shiraz.

Saeed Aganji, a Finland-based Iranian journalist told the BBC, the pattern of incidents and mishaps could be premeditated acts. “By targeting Iran strategic and economic sites, the aim is to bring Iran’s economy to its knees and force the regime to stop financing militia groups and change course in the Middle East,”  he said.