Air defence test sparks loud blast near Iran nuclear site

Published December 5, 2021
In this file photo taken on March 30, 2005 a general view shows the Iranian nuclear research centre of Natanz, 270km south of Tehran. — AFP
In this file photo taken on March 30, 2005 a general view shows the Iranian nuclear research centre of Natanz, 270km south of Tehran. — AFP

TEHRAN: An air defence test triggered a loud explosion near Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility on Saturday as nuclear talks with major powers stumble.

The explosion was heard in the skies over the Iranian city of Badroud, just 20km from the nuclear plant, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“Badroud residents heard the noise and saw a light which showed an object had just blown up in the skies over the city,” a witness said.

But the spokesman for the Iranian army, Gen Amir Tarikhani, told state television there was no cause for concern.

“An hour ago, one of our missile systems in the region was tested to assess the state of readiness on the ground, and there is nothing to fear,” Tarikhani said.

Israel has said repeatedly that it stands ready to use all means, including force, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, and Iran has carried out periodic exercises to improve the defences around its nuclear sites.

“To evaluate the systems based in the region, such exercises are carried out in a completely secure environment and in full coordination with the integrated defence network,” the army spokesman said.

Israel has been pushing hard for world powers to abandon talks with Iran on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, which reopened in Vienna on Monday.

“A bad deal, which I hope they do not reach, is intolerable from our perspective,” the head of Israel’s Mossad external intelligence agency, David Barnea, said on Thursday.

The United States warned on Saturday that it would not allow Iran to “slow walk” negotiations on its nuclear programme while at the same time ramping up uranium enrichment and other activities.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2021

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