Mystery Surrounds Massive Explosion Near Tehran

Satellite images of the area showed a huge hole in the ground and hundreds of meters of scorched earth at the site about 20 kilometers from downtown Tehran. The predawn blast shook buildings and lit up the sky

Tehran. Photo: Bigstock

Was it an accident, sabotage, or even an attack? In the aftermath of a huge explosion east of the Iranian capital in the predawn hours of June 26, there are still no clear answers as to how the incident occurred. 

The blast that shook buildings and lit up the sky took place near a base that Iran reportedly uses for missile tests linked to its nuclear program.  

Satellite photographs of the area following the incident appeared to show that the site was not simply a fuel storage facility as Iran's government claimed.      

Images taken by the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite showed a huge hole in the ground and hundreds of meters of scorched earth at the site, located about 20 kilometers from downtown Tehran in the Alborz Mountains. Analysts who studied the images were quoted as saying the site has underground tunnels believed to be used for the production of missiles.    

In a statement, a spokesman for the Iranian Defense Ministry claimed there was a gas explosion in the area of the Parchin military base. He said there were no casualties and the fire caused by the explosion was under control.

The International Atomic Energy Agency previously said it suspects Iran conducted tests of high-explosive triggers that could be used in nuclear weapons at the Parchin base.

According to AP, the blast appears to have occurred at a facility for the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets.