Huge blast heard in Iranian city of Isfahan (Iran)
Iran's Fars news agency reported a large explosion in one of Iran's largest cities, located near uranium conversion plant. Report removed from website shortly afterwards; security officials deny incident
Conflicting reports? Less than two weeks after a mysterious explosion destroyed an Iranian missile base near Tehran, the Islamic Republic's official news agency Fars reported Tuesday that a loud blast was heard in the city of Isfahan at 2:40 pm local time, but later removed the report.
According to the initial report, search and rescue teams called to the scene confirmed the blast, but reported no injuries.
Iran's uranium conversion plant is located just outside Isfahan – one of the country's largest cities.
The report also stated that a security official confirmed that the explosion had occurred, but refused to give further details.
The district's security department head Muhammad Mahdi Ismaili told the news agency that he hadn't received "exact information, but the incident is being investigated."
In a curious turn of events, shortly after the initial report was published, the item was removed from the news agency's website, which is affiliated with the country's Revolutionary Guard.
Hours later, conflicting reports began to surface, the deputy governor of Isfahan province telling Iran's Mehr news agency that there was no report of a major explosion in the province.
"So far no report of a major explosion has been heard from any government body in Isfahan," he was quoted as saying.
However, the news agency also quoted another Iranian media outlet as saying that a blast took place at a petrol station in a town near Isfahan.
Iranian enrichment plant (Archive photo: Reuters)
Meanwhile, the head of Isfahan province judiciary told Isna news agency that an explosion-like sound was heard across the city.
"In the afternoon, there was a noise like an explosion, but we don't have any information from security forces on the source of the noise," Gholamreza Ansari was quoted as saying.
The uranium conversion plant is an integral part of Iran's nuclear program, where urania, also known as Yellowcake, is processed into uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6).
From there, the gas is transferred to Iran's nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom.
Two weeks ago, 17 Iranian servicemen were killed and several others seriously wounded in anexplosion at a military base that stored missiles near Tehran. The explosion also killed Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam, one of the key figures in Iran's missile program.
Earlier on Monday, The IDF head of Intelligence Research Department Brigadier General Itai baron told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that "the blast in the site where surface-to-surface missiles were developed can delay or bring to a complete halt the production of the missiles at that site."
"However," Baron cautioned, "It must be emphasized that Iran has other development sites other than the one that was destroyed