Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency
A blast was heard and a flash of light was seen, allegedly at Badrud "on the outskirts of Natanz," where Iran's main uranium enrichment nuclear plant is located, on Dec. 4, 2021

An explosion was heard and a flash of light was seen late Saturday near Badrud, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant, according to a report by the IRNA state news agency and FARS news agency linked to the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

There is unofficial speculation that the missile was launched in response to a drone flying over the facility.

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The explosion, which occurred at 8:15 pm local time, reportedly caused “no loss of life or property,” according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency, quoting Natanz Governor Ramezanali Ferdowsi.

Middle East blogger Abu Ali Express reported, however, that there were reports of damage to homes nearby. There are also unconfirmed reports of homes near the site being evacuated.

A spokesperson for the Iranian military claimed officials had test-fired a missile system, according to Tasnim News Agency.

“”An explosive sound was heard in the Natanz area and strong light was seen in the sky of this area. . . According to the latest information received from the region, a defensive missile was fired into the sky of Badrud region with the aim of testing the rapid response to a possible attack,” Tasnim reported.

The blast comes just one day after the seventh round of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and China, Russia, Germany, France, the UK and the United States. Envoys from the United States were present in the Austrian capital but were not at the negotiating table at the insistence of Iran, still angry over its withdrawal from the pact in 2018 by President Donald Trump.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at a briefing in Dubai that the talks had not been successful and that it appeared there might not be any further negotiations, at least for the time being.

On Saturday night, Iranian authorities informed the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the explosion, saying the cause was unknown.

Natanz is the site of Iran’s main uranium enrichment facilities. This past April, several thousand uranium enrichment centrifuges were destroyed at the plant, causing a blackout at the facility.

Israel was blamed for the explosion.

Last year as well the site was targeted by saboteurs who blew up an advanced centrifuge assembly plant on the premises.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.