Source: Adrian Zorzut
A “HUGE explosion” has been reportedly heard near a nuclear facility in Iran as reports claim a drone was shot down – but the military alleges it was a rocket test.
Local media reports claim a bright light was seen in the sky over the central city of Natanz, which houses the country’s nuclear enrichment facility.
It’s not yet clear what caused the blast but unconfirmed reports say an unidentified drone was shot down, according to the MailOnline.
The semi-official Fars news agency quoted its reporter in nearby Badroud as saying a short blast was heard which was accompanied by an intense light in the sky.
IRNA, an Iranian news agency, said the explosion was heard as far as 12 miles away from the nuclear plant.
A witness told IRNA: “Badroud residents heard the noise and saw a light which showed an object had just blown up in the skies over the city.
But the air defence commander for the Natanz region told state television there was no cause for concern.
He said: “An hour ago, one of our missile systems in the region was tested to assess the state of readiness on the ground, and there is nothing to fear.”
Army spokesman Shahin Taqikhani told state media: “Such exercises are carried out in a completely secure environment… and there is no cause for concern.”
Meanwhile, the governor of Natanz Country told Fars the exact details of what happened were still unknown.
Iran’s military has since said the explosion was related to the testing of its air defense system near the nuclear plant.
The military said it had fired a missile as part of an exercise on Saturday to test a rapid reaction force over Natanz, state TV reported.
In 2014, Iran shot down an Israeli drone near the Natanz nuclear complex, according to the BBC.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards said they’re fired at what appeared to be a stealth drone that approached the area.
The explosion comes as talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna over the country’s nuclear ambitions was suspended on Friday.
European powers accused the new Iranian regime of rowing back on its diplomatic commitments and streaming about with its nuclear programme.
It’s possible the talks could collapse next week if Iran does not change its negotiating demands.
Diplomats representing Britain, France and Germany in the talks said they were “disappointed” and “concerned” by the deadlock.
“Tehran is walking back almost all of the difficult compromises crafted after many months of hard work.
“Over five months ago, Iran interrupted negotiations. Since then, Iran has fast-forwarded its nuclear programme.
“This week, it has backtracked on the diplomatic progress made.”
The nuclear facility in Natanz has been targeted by attack at least twice in the past two years, according to the Jerusalem Post.
In April, an explosion which Iran blamed on Israel caused extensive damage at the site.
Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, stated at the time that the nuclear site has been hit by five explosions in recent years.
Israel has long claimed that Tehran is using its nuclear programme to build a bomb, with the country’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously giving a presentation on Iran’s nuclear weapons capacity.
Iran has strongly denied the claims and says its nuclear plans are “strictly” peaceful.
But the International Atomic Energy Agency had begun enriching uraniuym to a purity of 20 per cent at its underground facility in Fordow, according to Aljazeera news.
They claim the country’s “breakout time” – that is, the time it would take to develop a nuclear weapon if it chose to – has dropped to about a month and is continuing to get shorter.
In 2015, Tehran had agreed to limit its nuclear development in exchange for the removal of “crippling” sanctions, but the agreement was torpedoed under former President Trump as the US withdrew in 2018.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington rose after years of “maximum pressure” pursued by Trump, which culminated in the assassination of top general Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.