Iranian officials dismiss reports of explosion near Tehran

Iranian officials on Friday dismissed reports of an explosion west of Tehran that stoked fears about more potential instability after a series of blasts and fires in recent weeks.

Damage from a fire and explosion is seen at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, Iran, on July 2. Reports said another explosion and a power outage occurred near Tehran on Friday. Photo by Atomic Energy Organization of Iran

Reports said the explosion and power outages hit the Shahr-e Qods area west of the capital late Thursday.

Iranian Twitter users reported hearing several bursts of what sounded like mortar and anti-aircraft fire just after midnight.

Leila Vaseghi, the governor of Shahr-e Qods, on Friday denied there had been any explosions in the area.

“The power outage also occurred in a limited area for five or six minutes, and power outages did not occur extensively,” she said.

Friday’s reports followed multiple unexplained explosions and fires in Iran recently. The most serious occurred last week at the Natanz nuclear complex, 150 miles south of Tehran, when a fire broke out and was followed by an explosion.

Nearly three-quarters of the complex’s main centrifuge assembly hall was destroyed in what experts say was a significant setback to Iran’s nuclear program.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Friday it’s too early to talk about the “root cause” of the fire.

As with the response to Friday’s reports of another explosion, Iranian officials initially downplayed fire at Natanz before ultimately acknowledging the damage had been extensive.

Several similar incidents have occurred Iran in recent weeks, including an explosion at a plant in Khojir that produces liquid fuel for missiles, and a fire at power plant in Shiraz.

ByDon Jacobson