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January 28, 2013 12:18 am

Conflicting Reports Over Explosion at Iranian Fordow Nuclear Facility

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Satellite view of the uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, Iran. Photo: DigitalGlobe.

Conflicting reports have emerged over news of an explosion at Iran’s underground nuclear site at Fordow last week.

The news website WND first reported the alleged blast, quoting a defected Iranian intelligence officer who claimed a massive explosion occurred at the facility at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, partially destroying the site and trapping more than 240 people underground.

On Monday, however, Iranian officials denied the explosion.

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“The false news of an explosion at Fordow is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence their process and outcome,” IRNA quoted deputy Iranian nuclear energy agency chief Saeed Shamseddin Bar Broudi as saying, Reuters reported.

The London Times, on the other hand, reported that sources within the Israeli government have confirmed that an explosion happened last week and intelligence officials are investigating the reports.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, are downplaying any Israeli knowledge or involvement.

“I read about it in the paper,” Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Army Radio early Monday morning, Israel Hayom reported.

“We’ve heard about worms, viruses and explosions in the past,” Ya’alon said. “All of these efforts delay Iran’s nuclear program. If such disturbances hadn’t hit Iran in the last number of years, Tehran would have developed a military nuclear program a long time ago.”

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) quarterly report issued on Nov. 16, Iran’s work on the deep underground nuclear site, Fordow, near the holy city of Qom, is nearly complete. It now has the full capacity of 2,784 centrifuges.

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