WND and The Australian are reporting that a mysterious explosion has hit Iran’s not-so-secret nuclear facilities. Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran. The reports indicate that the explosion occurred within Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, a site that is located deep under a mountain, and has destroyed much of the facility and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground. The previously secret nuclear site has become a center for Iran’s nuclear activity because of the 2,700 centrifuges enriching uranium to the 20-percent level. The regime’s uranium enrichment process takes place at two known sites: the Natanz facility with more than 10,000 centrifuges and Fordow with more than 2,700.
The explosion ocurred Monday (1/21/13) at 11:30 AM and was reported via Hamidreza Zakeri, formerly with the Islamic regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security.
According to WND:
The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran-Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast, the source said. As of Wednesday afternoon, rescue workers had failed to reach the trapped personnel.
The site, about 300 feet under a mountain, had two elevators which now are out of commission. One elevator descended about 240 feet and was used to reach centrifuge chambers. The other went to the bottom to carry heavy equipment and transfer uranium hexafluoride. One emergency staircase reaches the bottom of the site and another one was not complete. The source said the emergency exit southwest of the site is unreachable.
The regime believes the blast was sabotage and the explosives could have reached the area disguised as equipment or in the uranium hexafluoride stock transferred to the site, the source said. The explosion occurred at the third centrifuge chambers, with the high-grade enriched uranium reserves below them.
It has long been believed that targeted strikes at Iran’s nuclear facilities would occur before larger military strikes were considered. Prior to this, several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated in recent years. Last year, saboteurs struck the power supply to the Fordow facility, temporarily disrupting production. And a computer worm called Stuxnet, believed to have originated in the U.S., set Iran’s plans for nuclear weapons back substantially.