Iran Denies Explosion at Bunker Nuke Plant

But Israel welcomes it if no one was hurt
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2013 3:08 PM CST
Updated Jan 28, 2013 3:50 PM CST
FILE - In this Sept. 2007 file picture an anti-aircraft gun position is seen at Iran's nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, Iran. Iran has put finishing touches for the installation of thousands of...   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)

(Newser) – Iran today denied reports that an explosion had ripped through its Fordow nuclear site, which is buried 300 feet underground and considered safe from air strikes, the Telegraph and Reuters report. "The false news of an explosion at Fordow is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence their process and outcome," state media quoted a nuclear official as saying. Seems the story started on a right-wing website called WND, which attributed it to an unnamed "former intelligence officer" in Iran—but that hasn't quelled speculation entirely.

"Any explosion in Iran that doesn't hurt people but hurts its assets is welcome," said Israel's defense minister. And an Israeli foreign policy expert said Iran may have cooked up the story to keep inspectors from entering Fordow. After all, the story broke right after Iranian state media reported that talks could resume between Tehran and Western powers, although the EU quickly said no such agreement existed. Also note that Fordow started making uranium at 20% fissile purity in 2011, far higher than the 3.5% needed at nuclear energy plants. (Read more Israel stories.)

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