Is Iran testing ballistic missiles? Mysterious blast and 'large burn area' at Khojir missile base raise concerns

Satellite images revealed by Western media with further concerns from Israeli media suggest these explosions may be related to secret missile sites


                            Is Iran testing ballistic missiles? Mysterious blast and 'large burn area' at Khojir missile base raise concerns
[Representtional Image] (Getty Images)

A "mysterious blast" in Iran last week has been doing rounds on social media with endless curiosity over what caused it. The country claimed that it was an accidental explosion in the gas pipeline or a blast caused by a gas leak at a civilian storage site in the desert. Iran’s Fars news agency said several social media users reported witnessing an “orange light” to the south-east of Tehran after what the authorities claimed was an explosion in an industrial gas tank. The agency, which is close to Iran’s ultra-conservatives, cited informed sources to say that the incident was not linked to the country’s military. Observers in the West and Israel, however, think otherwise. 

But now, other speculations surrounding Iran's attempts to test their "ballistic missiles and defense systems" have started surfacing. A report in Zero Hedge said the massive blast prompted Iran’s defense ministry to address the issue, given the fact that the explosion happened near a sensitive military site. While a spokesperson of the Middle Eastern nation dismissed the blast as an accident at a gas storage facility in a “public area” of Parchin, located about 20 miles southeast to the national capital, analysts in the West said the area was close to Iran’s alleged secretive missile manufacturing sites.

NBC News correspondent Raf Sanchez said in a tweet: “Satellite image shows the aftermath of the explosion at Khojir missile base in Iran. One building completely destroyed and a large burn area. Iran claims a gas tank exploded near a military base. There's no sign of a gas tank here and the blast is inside the base.”

Israel media expresses concern

The media in Israel, Iran’s enemy in the region, also expressed concern. The Jerusalem Post said in a report about the mysterious blast: “Iran may have been up to more than it claims after mysterious explosions ripped apart an area near secretive missile factories in the hills east of Tehran. Images have identified a burned area in the hills near the Khojir Missile Production Complex. Regional media is now speculating that something worse may have happened when a massive explosion lit up the night skies over Iran last week. Theories initially pointed to Parchin as the location of the explosion. Iranian media claimed it was just a gas leak at a storage facility.”

It is not the first time that Iran has been suspected of hiding explosions at missile and other defense-testing sites. On Friday, June 26, the Iranian media said it was not sure about the reason of the blast. “The cause of this sound and light is not yet known, but it was clearly heard in Pardis, in Boumhen and surrounding areas" of the Iranian capital, a report by Mehr news agency said.

In November 2011, a massive blast at a missile base run by the Revolutionary Guard Corps was part of a series of mysterious incidents involving explosions at natural gas transport sites, oil refineries and military facilities that killed several and damaged key infrastructure. 

The latest explosion has added fuel to the speculation since Iran is at odds with the US and Israel at the moment. The US under President Donald Trump has been particularly critical of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and pulled out of the 2015 multilateral treaty aimed at reining in Tehran’s ambitions. Israel has also been claiming that Iran is working on developing warheads and the capacity to launch them. 

The Hedge report also said that there is a question of possible Israeli jet or drone attacks since Israel’s airstrikes on Iranian targets inside an embattled Syria have become frequent.

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