Iranian Factory Blows Up: Covert Op or Accident?
Mon, May 20, 2013
Iranian President Ahmadinejad tour the Natanz nuclear facility. (Photo: © Reuters)
On May 7, three explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Raja-Shimi chemical complex in Tehran Province. Though the Iranian regime claims the site is privately owned and the explosions were part of planned detonations of out-of-date ammunition, local residents confirm that the site is related to Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The complex is linked to the Defense Ministry and is next to the Revolutionary Guards’ Center for Missile Research and an Air Force garrison. The site is suspected of producing ingredients for chemical weapons and fuel for surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, the delivery system for a nuclear warhead. Nearby residents indicate that it is also a missile storage center.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran, an opposition group, reports that off-site firefighters were blocked from having access to the site and that personnel were told not to discuss casualty numbers.
The explosion comes shortly after an Israeli airstrike destroyed an Iranian missile shipment to Hezbollah in Syria and during the same week that regime officials boasted of improving their ballistic missile technology, specifically in solid fuel development.
The Clarion Project has compiled this timeline of possible covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program in recent years:
May 7, 2013: Three explosions at the Raja-Shimi chemical complex in Tehran Province.
January 21, 2013: Iranian opposition sources report a large explosion at the underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordo. The Iranian regime denies the reports and the White House and International Atomic Energy Agency cast doubt. Anonymous international government officials confirm that an explosion happened and the Iranian opposition sources stand by their story.
May 2012: Defense Onlinereports that at least 10 senior Revolutionary Guards officials have suffered mysterious deaths in recent months.
April 2012: The Iranian government states that its Oil Ministry and Kharg Island terminal, where the majority of Iran’s oil is exported from, were hacked into by foreigners. It denied that there was serious damage but admits that “data related to some of the users have been compromised.”
January 11, 2012: A fifth Iranian nuclear scientist, Mostafa Ahmad Roshan, is killed when two assassins attach a magnetic bomb to his car. The Iranian regime says he was “deputy in charge of commerce” at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.
December 11, 2011: At least 7 are killed and 12 are wounded in an explosion at a steel plant in Yazd. The site had not been publicly identified as a nuclear or missile site. There are reports that the plant produced steel for making missile exhaust system and/or missile nose cones.
November 12, 2011: A Revolutionary Guards missile base at Bid Kaneh near Tehran is destroyed in a series of explosions. Iran’s top missile engineer is killed.
November 28, 2011: Massive explosions are heard near the Isfahan uranium conversion facility. The Institute for Science and International Security concludes that an underground storage site 400 meters from the facility was destroyed.
November 25, 2011: The Washington Postreports a “fivefold increase in explosions at refineries and gas pipelines since 2010.” The number of gas pipeline explosions increased from 3 in 2009 to 17 in 2010. The explosions undermine Iran’s ability to finance its weapons programs.
October 12, 2011: A Revolutionary Guards base at Khorramabad is destroyed because of an explosion at an ammunition depot. The base had launch pads and storage centers for Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, which Iran has researched how to develop a nuclear warhead for.
October 2011: A new cyber attack, Doqu, is discovered in Iran and nicknamed “Son of Stuxnet.”
July 23, 2011: A fourth nuclear scientist, Darioush Rezaei, is killed when he is shot near his home by assassins on motorcycles. He specialized in neutron transport, the type of expertise needed in triggering nuclear explosions.
November 29, 2010: Motorcycle-riding attackers use magnet bombs to target two nuclear scientists in two different locations. Majid Shahriari, a specialist in neutron transport, becomes the third nuclear scientist to die. Fereidoun Abbasi, who the U.N. had linked to Iran’s nuclear program, survives and is promoted to director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
June 2010: A cyber weapon dubbed “Stuxnet” is discovered in Iran. It is believed to have destroyed one-fifth of the 5,000 centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility by speeding up their spins.
In November 2009, only 3,900 centrifuges were operating, down about 1,000 from May. The ones that did operate only produced about half of the uranium they should have. One study found that Iran’s centrifuges were only operating at 20 percent efficiency. Only about half of the centrifuges at Natanz were working, and they were breaking faster than they were being replaced.
The cyber attack may also have targeted the Bushehr nuclear reactor.
January 12, 2010: A second nuclear scientist, Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, is killed when a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle goes off in Tehran. The Iranian regime compliments him as a “staunch supporter of the Islamic Revolution,” but some opposition sources suspect the regime was behind his death instead of a foreign government. It is reported that a Lebanese Hezbollah operative was seen near the explosion. The scientist was a known supporter of President Ahmadinejad’s rival in the presidential election.
October 2009: David Ignatius of the Washington Postreports on a story in Nucleonics Week that malfunctioning equipment at the Isfahan conversion site led to the contamination of uranium at the Natanz enrichment facility, as far back as 2005.
Summer 2009: An explosion occurs at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization is subsequently fired.
January 2007: A scientist who works at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility dies. The Iranian regime says he “suffocated by fumes from a faulty gas fire” but a foreign role is widely suspected.
2006: An explosion at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility destroys 50 centrifuges. The Iranian regime blames it on “manipulated equipment.”Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized