A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards missile expert was killed in Saturday’s blast southwest of Tehran, but Iran denies mounting evidence that it was sabotage and that it occurred at a missile base.
The government-controlled media in Iran admitted that one of the 17 people killed in the blast was Brigadier Hassan Moghadam, head of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) missile development. He was a researcher at a Tehran university and headed the "Jihad Self-Reliance" unit.
Iran also explained that the official death toll of 17 originally was reported as 27 due to an illegible Fax message.
Iran also insists that the explosion was accidental and occurred at an ammunition depot, but evidence suggests otherwise. Several sources asserted that the base was home to the Fifth Ra'ad Missile Brigade, responsible for medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile.
There were two explosions at two separate bases, and not one explosion at one base, DebkaFile reported Sunday.
It said the death toll actually was 32 and that 45 ambulances and a helicopter were used in rescue operations. One of the bases was so secretive that not all of the rescue vehicles were allowed to enter, the website said.
Iran’s official reports of an accident at an ammunition base were difficult to believe because the explosion rattled windows in Tehran, which is located more than 25 miles east of the bases.
"This blast is not related to any nuclear tests," said Guards spokesman Brig. Ramedan Sharif, following reports that the explosion resulted from a failed attempt to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.
In what may not have been coincidence, a large fire broke out Friday at a Tehran warehouse storing anti-riot equipment, including tear gas.
The MEK group of Iranian exiles also stated that at least one of the explosions occurred at a missile base.
Former Mujahedin-e Khalq spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh, told the Associated Press that the blasts "resulted from the explosion of IRGC missiles."
A Eurasia Review article by Richard Silverstein stated categorically that the Mossad and the MEK collaborated to carry out the explosions.
“My source has never been wrong so far in the reports he’s offered," he wrote.