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Monday, January 28, 2013

Israel confirms, Iran denies Fordow explosion - UPDATED

And now Iran feels it has to issue a denial....
An Iranian official on Sunday night denied the reports, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Seyyed Shamseddin Barbroudi was quoted by the IRNA as dismissing the report.
But The Times of Israel - citing the Times of London (I understand that it's Sheera Frankel and not Uzi Mahnaimi) - is now reporting that Israeli sources are confirming the explosion.
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 also has a further denial from Iran.

How long does it take to get a satellite photo?

Remember al-Kibar in Syria and how the Syrians claimed nothing happened while Israel maintained radio silence for weeks?



Someone has now emailed the text of Sheera Frankel's report in the Times of London. Here's part of that report:
An explosion is believed to have damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich uranium, Israeli intelligence officials have told The Times. Sources in Tel Aviv said yesterday that they thought the explosion happened last week. The Israeli Government is investigating reports that it led to extensive structural damage and 200 workers had been trapped inside. 
Israel believes the Iranians have not evacuated the surrounding area. It is unclear whether that is because no harmful substances have been released, or because Tehran is trying to avoid sparking panic among residents. 
The Fordow plant is buried deep underground inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom. It is thought to be Iran’s most heavily fortified facility and is regarded as impervious to Israeli airstrikes. Many of Fordow’s 2,700 nuclear centrifuges are stored hundreds of feet below ground in bunkers. 
One Israeli official said: “We are still in the preliminary stages of understanding what happened and how significant it is.” He did not know, he added, if the explosion was “sabotage or accident”, and refused to comment on reports that Israeli aircraft were seen near the facility at the time of the explosion. [Emphasis mine. CiJ]
In briefings given recently to The Times, Israeli intelligence officers provided satellite imagery that showed new fortifications had been built around Fordow’s perimeter. “This is already Iran’s most heavily fortified facility,” one officer said. He added that while there were larger facilities, intelligence estimates suggested that nuclear scientists at Fordow were producing medium-enriched uranium, which could be converted to bomb grade.

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