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Clues to Huge Fireball Over Tehran Come Via a Photo

Analysts think explosion that shook Iran's capital originated at site near where missiles are made
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 27, 2020 8:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – An explosion that rattled Iran’s capital came from an area in its eastern mountains that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites, satellite photos showed Saturday. What exploded in the incident early Friday that sent a massive fireball into the sky near Tehran remains unclear, as does the cause of the blast, the AP notes. The unusual response of the Iranian government in the aftermath of the explosion, however, underscores the sensitive nature of an area near where international inspectors believe Iran's Islamic Republic conducted high-explosive tests two decades ago for nuclear weapon triggers. The blast shook homes, rattled windows, and lit up the horizon early Friday in the Alborz Mountains. State TV later aired a segment from what it described as being the site of the blast.

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One of its journalists stood in front of what appeared to be large, blackened gas cylinders, though the camera remained tightly focused and didn't show anything else around the site. Satellite photos of the area showed hundreds of yards of charred scrubland not seen in images of the area taken in the weeks ahead of the incident. The building near the char marks resembled the facility seen in the state TV footage. Defense Ministry rep Davood Abdi blamed the blast on a leaking gas he didn't ID and said no one was killed in the explosion. Abdi described the site as a "public area," raising the question of why military officials and not civilian firefighters would be in charge. The gas storage area sits near what analysts describe as Iran's Khojir missile facility. The explosion appears to have struck a facility for the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets, a researcher says.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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