TEHRAN: Iran said Sunday a night-time drone attack had targeted a defence ministry site and the country’s anti-aircraft system destroyed one drone and two others exploded.
The defence ministry said there were no casualties and only minor damage to the site in the central province of Isfahan.
A fireball lit up the night sky in video footage widely shared on social media and published by Iranian state media, with people outside seen running and emergency service vehicles speeding toward the site.
“An unsuccessful attack was carried out using (drones) ... on one of the workshop complexes of the ministry of defence,” the ministry said, adding that the strike late Saturday night caused only minor damage to the roof of a building but no casualties. “The attack, which occurred around 11:30pm (2000 GMT) on Saturday, did not cause any disruption to the operation of the complex,” it said.
Parliament member Mohammad-Hassan Assafari told the Mehr news agency that “opponents and enemies” of Iran were aiming to “disrupt the defensive power” of the country with the attack.
The drone strike comes at a tense time in Iran as the standoff with major powers over its nuclear programme remains unresolved.
Tehran has also faced accusations by Western countries that it has been supplying armed drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran has been engaged in a shadow war for years with its arch foe Israel, blamed for a series of sabotage attacks and assassinations of Iran’s nuclear scientists and its nuclear programme, and with Israel’s ally the United States.
The deputy governor of Isfahan province, Mohammad Reza Jan-Nesari, said on television there had been “no casualties”, adding that “the cause of the incident is under investigation”. Authorities did not elaborate on the activities at the targeted site.
A few hours before the Isfahan attack, a major fire broke out at a motor oil production plant in the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan, Irna reported. Images of the blaze in the key industrial complex of Shahid Salimi linked to the Ministry of Industry were published by the agency.
It said the fire was brought under control by firefighters, and authorities were investigating the cause of the blaze.
Shahid Salimi, located in the city of Azarshahr, is the largest industrial zone in northwestern Iran. It hosts 790 factories and other facilities employing nearly 28,000 workers, according to state media.
Iran has several known nuclear research sites in the Isfahan region, including a uranium conversion plant.
In 2021, Tehran announced it had started producing 60 per cent enriched uranium at the Natanz site in Isfahan province as in 2018 then-US president Donald Trump declared a unilateral withdrawal from the accord and re-imposed a painful sanctions regime.
Negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have stalled for months. The deal offered Iran relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme to guarantee that Tehran could not build a nuclear weapon — an objective it has always denied pursuing.
Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2023
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