Explosion Near Iranian Nuclear Plant
“A local source said the explosion could have been the result of the falling of an empty fuel tank from an Iranian plane,” Al-Alam said.
The Arabic-language channel also quoted other witnesses as saying that an unknown aircraft fired a missile on Wednesday in a deserted area near the southern city of Dailam, which is in Bushehr province.
If this is an accident, it would be a happy one indeed. I tend to side with Kevin Aylward, though, that an Israeli or U.S. missile is the more likely culprit.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, but residents reported seeing an aircraft overhead. State television says the explosion may have been caused by a fuel tank dropping from an Iranian airplane. Iran and Russia are building a nuclear reactor in Bushehr, about 150 kilometers south of where Wednesday’s explosion occurred.
Iranian state television described a plane flying over the area immediately before the explosion, which occurred near the southern port city of Dailam. Descriptions then diverged. Initial reports said that the plane, which was not officially identified, had fired a missile. The possibility was later raised that it could have been an Iranian plane and that it had jettisoned a fuel tank that had happened to land in the area.
Israeli sources told Reuters that their military had no role in the Dailam incident.
Senior Israeli security sources told Reuters news agency that Israel’s military was not involved in any blast in Iran. “There was no Israeli military involvement in this,” one Israeli source was quoted as saying.
U.S. stock futures fell sharply following the news. “This explosion basically sent chills down the spines of futures traders,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Alaron Trading Corp in Chicago. Crude oil prices also jumped on the Iran television report.
UPDATE (1052): Reuters is now reporting,
A blast in southern Iran, initially reported to be a missile, was caused during dam construction, a senior official told an Iranian agency. “The explosion that occurred in the Dailam region was that of dam building operations,” Ali Agha Mohammadi, a member of the Supreme National Security Council, told the ISNA students news agency.
Given that this is the Iranian government’s third explanation in 90 minutes, I’m a bit dubious. Still, obtaining information in crisis situations–and this most certainly qualifies–is exceedingly difficult. It’s not entirely out of question that the Iranian government simply doesn’t know what’s happening and is in near panic trying to both figure it out and get their story to the world.