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Iran Denies Israel Behind Moqaddam's Death

Iran has denied reports Israel was behind a blast that killed 17 republican guards - including a key figure in its nuclear program.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/16/2011, 4:31 PM

Ali Laranjani
Ali Laranjani
Munich Security Conference (CC)

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed reports that a blast at an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) base near Tehran on Saturday was related to the Islamic Republic's nuclear or ballistic missile programs.

"The enemies," Larijani said, using Iranian diplomatic code for Israel, "Instead of showing the realities of the incident have concocted stories about it."

Larijani's remarks were made at a ceremony to memorialize the 17 Republican Guards killed in Saturday's blast at the IRGC depot in the village of Bidgoneh, some 40 kilometers to the West of Tehran.

Among those killed in the blast was General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam, who was described as the chief architect of Iran's missile program. The IRGC has vowed to continue Moqaddam's "path."

Despite Moqaddam's death, Laranjani sought to downplay the importance of reports about the incident, saying, "They continue their animosity with or without the occurrence of such incidents."

Israeli officials have followed standard protocol of not commenting on intelligence matters and issued no formal statement. Larijani's remarks were actually in response to media reports, such as Time magazine, citing 'Iranian sources' who blamed Israel for the explosion.

After the blast, a senior official of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps announced that the strong blast occurred as the military personnel were moving a cache of ammunition at the base.

"The blast happened during the transportation of ammunition," Head of the IRGC's Public Relations Office General Ramadan Sharif said on Saturday.

Iranian officials have become increasingly bellicose as international alarm over its nuclear program - broadly believed to be aimed at developing an atomic bomb – has fueled speculations of a potential strike on its nuclear facilities by Israel or the West.