Following as string of unconfirmed reports, speculation and guesses, the U.S. has announces that it does not believe there was an explosion at the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran.
Last Friday, right wing news website World News Daily reported an explosion at Fordow that led to the collapse of the bulk of the facility built under a mountain near the city of Qom, burying some 240 employees.
The report was said to have come from defecting Iranian Intelligence operators and Revolutionary Guards. One of those alleged defectors, Hmidrza Zaakiri, on Tuesday told Israel Army Radio about the event and its outcome.
“It was a big explosion, and because the facility is built under the mountain rock, it is very hard to reach workers trapped in there,” said Zaakiri. “All the elevators and emergency stairs have collapsed.”
Tehran has already denied the reports that its main uranium enrichment plant was damaged, and now the United States also rejects this report.
“We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “We don’t believe those are credible reports.”
Meanwhile the world is waiting for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which keeps track of the Fordow facility, to state whether there is evidence of sabotage there.
Iran has not updated its original response to the rumors, published on Sunday, which blamed the “Western propaganda machine” for the news.
“There has been no explosion in Fordow nuclear Facility,” the deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Seyyed Shamseddin Barbroudi said on Sunday.
The credibility of the initial report’s author has been called into question: Reza Kahlili worked for CIA in Iran in the 1980s, then was moved to the U.S. with his family.
Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer reported that “Kahlili himself is a frequent speaker at events in US organized by right-wing organizations and those that support the right in Israel … He also compared the regime in Tehran to that of the Nazis, and called upon Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations.”
Currently Kahlili writes books and lectures on Iran. He claims “to still have an impressive network of sources in various government agencies.”
Kahlili has never shown his face in public, for fear of retribution. He always appears wearing a baseball cap, dark glasses and a surgical mask.
Pfeffer verified, however, that Kahlili’s “employment by the CIA has been confirmed by agency sources and an approving review of his book [A Time to Betray] even appeared on the CIA website.”
Now, with defector Hmidrza Zaakiri adding his voice to the story, it appears that there has been some smoke at Fordow, and we only need to find out how much fire created it.