DUBAI, January 29. (Reuters). A loud explosion rocked a military industrial plant near the central Iranian city of Isfahan overnight in what Tehran said was a drone attack by unidentified assailants on Sunday.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the blast, which comes amid tensions with the West over Tehran’s nuclear work and arms supplies to Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. Iran’s defense ministry said the blast caused only minor damage and no casualties.
Iranian media video showing a flash of light at a factory described by the official IRNA news agency as a munitions factory. Footage showed ambulances and fire engines outside the complex.
“About 11 p.m. 30 hours (2000 GMT) on Saturday night, a failed attack was carried out by micro-flying aircraft at a workshop site of the ministry,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by Iranian state television.
It said one drone was shot down “while the other two fell into a defense trap and detonated. It only caused minor damage to the roof of the workshop building. There were no casualties.”
The attack “did not affect our facilities and mission… and such blind measures will not affect the country’s further progress.”
Separately, IRNA reported early Sunday a massive fire at a motor oil factory in an industrial area near the northwestern city of Tabriz. She did not provide information about the cause of the fire.
Iran has in the past accused its arch-enemy Israel of planning attacks using agents on Iranian soil. In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team made up 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 when asked if 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 refraining from commenting on specific incidents.
In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying Russia with hundreds of drones to attack civilian targets in cities far from the front lines, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyi linked the incident directly to the war there.
“The logic of war is relentless and murderous. It severely charges authors and accomplices,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Explosive night in Iran – drone and missile production, oil refineries. Have you been warned.”
Several Iranian nuclear facilities are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, a key element of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. In recent years, there have been many explosions and fires around Iran’s military, nuclear and industrial facilities.
Negotiations between Tehran and world powers on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact have stalled since September. Under the pact, which Washington abandoned under President Donald Trump, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran has acknowledged sending the drones to Russia, but says they were sent before Moscow invaded Ukraine last year. Moscow denies its forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine, although many have been shot down and recovered there.
Tehran has also faced internal turmoil in recent months as it grapples with widespread anti-government demonstrations sparked by the death of a woman arrested for violating a dress code.
Reporting by Dubai Newsroom Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Daniel Wallis, Cynthia Osterman, Josie Kao, Peter Graff
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