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An “earthquake” that rocked northeastern Iran late last week may have been a blast from a suspected nuclear silo, experts tell The Associated Press and is likely associated with a “fireball” that could be seen over the country’s capital city, Tehran.
“An explosion that rattled Iran’s capital came from an area in its eastern mountains that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites, satellite photographs showed Saturday,” the AP reported Sunday, adding that the blast’s location is suspiciously close to where Iran has tested powerful nuclear weapons triggers before.
The blast is the second concerning, potentially nuclear event in as many days. On Saturday, Russia denied that one of its nuclear power stations was suffering a meltdown, despite Swedish authorities saying they detected a rise in at least three different types of radioactive emissions, Financial Times reports.
After the United States terminated an agreement with Iran barring it from pursuing its nuclear ambitious — at least theoretically — Iran promised to return to building nuclear armaments (many international experts, and the Trump Administration, believe that Iran never abandoned their pursuit).
Last week’s blast indicates that they may also be working on developing missiles and missile components.
“The blast shook homes, rattled windows and lit up the horizon early Friday in the Alborz Mountains. State TV later aired a segment from what it described as the site of the blast,” the AP said. “Satellite photos of the area, some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) east of downtown Tehran, showed hundreds of meters (yards) of charred scrubland not seen in images of the area taken in the weeks ahead of the incident. The building near the char marks resembled the facility seen in the state TV footage.”
The site is home to Iran’s Khojir missile facility and associated weapons manufacturing operations. The area, experts told The Associated Press, is the “site of numerous tunnels, some suspected of use for arms assembly.” The site “support[s] most facets of Tehran’s ballistic missile capabilities, including the operational force and the missile development and production program.”
In the years before the Iran agreement, nuclear inspectors with the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency accused Iran of using the facility to produce specific triggers for nuclear weapons — the same triggers many experts suspect were behind last week’s explosion.
There’s another dimension to the incident, though: both Israeli and Iraqi forces have been targeting Iran’s nuclear weapons operations, and both nations may have launched aggressive actions against Iran’s nuclear missile development in the last week, though neither nation has taken direct responsibility for the blast. Israel, especially, is concerned about Iran’s weapons development, given that the rogue nation has yet to successfully deploy a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead to Israel — and Israel would like to keep it that way.