DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) – A massive explosion rocked a military industrial plant near the central Iranian city of Isfahan overnight. Tehran said on Sunday that unknown assailants carried out the drone strike.
Clashes with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program and arms supplies to Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government protests in the country, did not immediately claim responsibility for the blast.
The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. Iran’s Defense Ministry said the blast caused minor damage and no injuries.
Iranian media in a video showing lights from what the official IRNA news agency described as a munitions factory. The footage shows emergency vehicles and fire trucks outside the complex.
“At around 11:30 p.m. (GMT 2000) on Saturday night, one of the ministry’s workshops was unsuccessfully attacked by micro aerial vehicles (MAVs),” the Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by Iran’s state television.
It says that one drone was shot down, and the other two were caught in defensive traps and detonated. It caused only minor damage to the roof of the workshop building. There are no casualties.
The attack “did not affect our installations and our mission… and such indiscriminate measures have no impact on the country’s continued progress.”
IRNA reported that a large fire broke out at a motor oil factory in an industrial area in the northwest of Tabriz early Sunday morning. He did not provide information about the cause of the fire.
Iran has previously accused its arch-enemy Israel of planning attacks using agents inside Iranian territory. In July, Tehran said it had arrested a subversive group of Kurdish fighters working for Israel who planned to blow up a “sensitive” defense industrial center in Isfahan.
An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on whether Israel was involved in the latest incident. Israel has long said it could attack Iran if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programs, but has a policy of not commenting on specific developments.
In Ukraine, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has accused Iran of supplying Russia with hundreds of drones to attack civilian targets in cities far from the front lines, directly linked the incident to the war there.
“The logic of war is inescapable and bloody. It is a heavy indictment of the authors and accomplices,” Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted. “Explosive night in Iran – drones and missiles, oil refineries. I warned you.”
Several Iranian nuclear facilities are located in Isfahan province, including the city of Natanz, the center of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. In recent years, there have been a number of explosions and fires around Iran’s military, nuclear and industrial facilities.
Negotiations between Tehran and world powers on revitalizing the 2015 nuclear deal have been stalled since September. Under the deal, which Washington abandoned under President Donald Trump, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
Iran has admitted sending drones to Russia, but says they were sent before Moscow invaded Ukraine last year. Moscow denies that its forces have used Iranian drones in Ukraine, but most of them have been shot down and recovered there.
In recent months, Tehran has also grappled with internal turmoil and has been cracking down on widespread anti-government demonstrations that sparked the death of a woman in custody for violating dress codes.
Reporting from the Dubai Newsroom Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Daniel Wallis, Cynthia Osterman, Josie Cao, Peter Graff
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