Explosion Near Iranian Nuclear Plant

Falling Fuel Tank May Have Caused Iran Blast – TV (Reuters)

Photo: A fuel tank falling from an Iranian plane could have caused an explosion in Iran's Bushehr province, where the country is building a nuclear power plant, Iran state television said on February 16, 2005. The Arabic-language channel Al-Alam also quoted other witnesses as saying that an unknown aircraft fired a missile in a deserted area near the southern city of Dailam, which is in Bushehr province. A fuel tank falling from an Iranian plane could have caused an explosion in Iran’s Bushehr province, where the country is building a nuclear power plant, Iran state television said on Wednesday.

“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.

Other coverage:

Voice of America:

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.

Globe and Mail:

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.

CNN:

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.

Reuters:

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.

FILED UNDER: Middle East
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jack Tanner says:

    If it were an Israeli missile it wouldn’t have missed, if it were a US it might have been a warning but I doubt it. More likely it was an accidental explosion but I agree we don’t know from what.

  2. DC Loser says:

    “If it were an Israeli missile it wouldn’t have missed..”

    The crew from the USS Liberty can vouch for that.

  3. Jem says:

    Had it been one of ours, it would have happened at night–using an F-117 or B-2. We would not place a more vulnerable aircraft in range of the Iranian SA-5s and would be very concerned with plausible deniability (we want contined carrier battlegroup access to the Persian/Arabian Gulf). There would have been no witness to anything other than the explosion…

  4. Explostion Near Iranian Nuke Plant
    Interesting, to say the least.

    OTB has a round-up.

  5. DC Loser says:

    JDAMS are not a good thing to use if you want plausible denial.

  6. Catching my eye: morning A through Z
    Here’s what’s caught my eye this morning: The Skeptical Optimist comments on the “National Security Disinvestment” (hat tip: Econopundit). I missed it yesterday since real life prevented me from posting a CME feature: Go Fug Yourself has po…

  7. As discussed here http://www.rightviews.com/article.php?id=269 the US has alledgedly been probing Iranian air space in an effort to have them turn on their radar so that we can map them. This would be conducted by non-stealthy aircraft.
    I more plausible explanation though is that Iran us concerned over both manned and unmanned US iver-flights to gather intelligence and has, as such, offered a reward for any downing of US assets. The Iranian SAM operators are probably a little trigger-happy as concluded by a drmataic increase in friendly fire incidents in recent weeks. We discuss it and other regional aspects here: http://www.rightviews.com/article.php?id=283

  8. SABOTAGE! IRANIAN REACTOR EXPLOSION RESULT OF COVERT OPS?

  9. LJD says:

    Another reason the Iranians should not have nuclear power, let alone weapons. They can’t even keep from bombing themselves.

    In other news:
    Iran and Syria have formed a defense agreement.
    Russia has agreed to sell SAMs to Syria.

    Axis of Evil, indeed.

  10. What’s going on in Iran?
    OTB notes an explosion has occurred near an Iranian nuclear plant……

  11. M. Murcek says:

    Right up there with N. Korea’s huge “fertilizer” railway blast a while back.

  12. Jem says:

    DC,
    All depends on where you put the JDAM. They’d probably never see it coming, nor the source aircraft (if you went with a night B-2/F-117 sortie)…just a little spot of clutter on the radar screen as the weapon left the aircraft…if your source happened to be pointed that way at the time…

  13. I think DC means that the remnants of the JDAM will be found in the wreckage.