The United States on Monday officially dismissed claims that a significant explosion has damaged an underground Iranian nuclear facility. Speaking to reporters, Press Secretary Jay Carney was quoted by the White House website as saying of the reports, “We have no information that would confirm them and do not believe that those reports or that report is credible.”
Earlier Monday a European diplomat told The Mideast Update the European Union had seen the reports of a blast at the Iranian Fordow nuclear enrichment plant, and said they were “seeking verification.” The Mideast Update has reached out to numerous contacts around the world, including government officials and think tank analysts, but none have verified the reports. Notably, the transcript of Monday’s briefing at the US State Department showed the Fordow issue was not even raised by reporters.
The claims that a blast had done substantial harm to the key Iranian nuclear site were originally reported by the WND website. Later, The Times in London reported that some Israeli officials believed an explosion had in fact damaged the Iranian Fordow facility, a bunker-like nuclear fuel enrichment plant.
Yet despite the significance of the claims, most major media outlets in the US and Israel have not given the story substantial coverage, further leading to doubts of the report’s veracity. It remains unclear what, if anything, has happened to the Fordow facility.
Fordow has long been controversial, initially because work for the site was not disclosed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and was belatedly revealed by Iran. That, combined with the plant’s underground nature, has lead to speculation it may have been intended to be a secret facility for developing nuclear fuel. Despite its disclosure, the site remains a concern, especially following the eventual upgrade of its uranium enrichment capabilities.
Apparent sabotage efforts on Iran’s overall nuclear program, ranging from mysterious explosions and assassinations to the Stuxnet computer malware attack, have hampered both Iran’s nuclear and missile programs over the years. A sizable explosion at the Fordow plant would rank as one of the most noteworthy sabotage efforts to date, making the difficulty in verifying the report even more unusual.
The West and Israel suspect Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, although Iran claims their program is strictly civilian in nature.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 29, 2013)