DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) – A huge explosion rocked a military factory near the central Iranian city of Isfahan overnight in what Tehran said on Sunday was a drone strike by unidentified attackers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came amid tensions with the West over Tehran’s nuclear work and supply of weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine and months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. The Iranian Ministry of Defense stated that the explosion caused only minor damage and no casualties.
Iranian media video showed flashes of light at the factory, which the official IRNA news agency described as an ammunition factory. Footage showed emergency vehicles and fire engines outside the building.
Iran’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement carried by Iran’s state television: “Around 23:30 (2000 GMT) on Saturday night, a micro-air vehicle (MAV) carried out an operation at a workshop site of the Ministry. Unsuccessful attack.”
It said one drone was shot down and “the other two were caught in a defensive trap and blown up. It caused only minor damage to the roof of the workshop building. There were no casualties.”
The attack “did not affect our facilities and missions … such blind measures will not affect the country’s continued progress.”
Separately, IRNA reported earlier Sunday that a fire had broken out at an engine oil factory in an industrial area near the northwestern city of Tabriz. It did not provide information on the cause of the fire.
Iran has in the past accused its arch-enemy Israel of planning attacks using agents inside Iran. In July, Tehran said it had captured a sabotage team of Kurdish militants working for Israel planning to blow up a “sensitive” defense industrial center in Isfahan.
An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment when asked if Israel had any involvement in the recent events. Israel has long said it may attack Iran if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programs, but its policy is not to comment on specific incidents.
In Ukraine, a top aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described the incident as Ukraine accused Iran of supplying Russia with hundreds of drones to strike civilian targets in cities far from front lines. directly linked to the war there.
“The logic of war is ruthless and murderous. It strictly charges authors and accomplices,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Night of bombs in Iran – drone and missile production, oil refineries. You were warned.”
Several Iranian nuclear facilities are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, the heart of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Tehran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. In recent years, there have been multiple explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities.
Negotiations between Tehran and world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since September. Under a deal abandoned by Washington under President Donald Trump, Iran agreed to limit nuclear work in exchange for easing sanctions.
Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but said they were sent before Moscow invaded Ukraine last year. Moscow denies its forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine, although many have been shot down and recovered there.
Tehran has also faced internal unrest in recent months, with the death in custody of a woman held for violating a dress code, sparking widespread anti-government demonstrations.
Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Daniel Wallis, Cynthia Osterman, Josie Kao, Peter Graff
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