Iran denies blast at key nuclear site

Updated 29 January 2013
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Iran denies blast at key nuclear site

TEHRAN: Iran has strongly denied reports of an explosion at its Fordo underground atomic site as “Western propaganda” ahead of stalled nuclear talks with major powers, media reported on Monday.
“No explosion has occurred in the Fordo facility,” the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Shamseddin Bar Boroudi, was quoted as saying.
A top lawmaker in charge of Iran’s national security commission, Aladin Borujerdi, said: “The false news of an explosion at the Fordo site is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence its process and outcome.”
The denials came after Western and Israeli media reports citing an American website, www.wnd.com, said an explosion at the Fordo facility on January 21 had caused major damage and trapped workers.
The United States, however, said it does not believe media reports about the explosion
“We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday. “We don’t believe those are credible reports.”
There has been no comment from the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency that monitors activities in Iran, which the West suspects of trying to develop the bomb.
Iran has on several times accused Israel and the United States of taking action to sabotage its nuclear program, through assassinations of its scientists and unleashing computer malware against its facilities.
The sensitive nuclear Fordo site is dug deep into a mountain near the holy city of Qom, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tehran, to protect it against air strikes.
But the site, Iran says, has been targeted by sabotage.
Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, said in September that “explosives” were used to cut the power supply to Fordo, without naming those responsible.
The site, whose existence was revealed by major powers in 2009, began in late 2011 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a process that lies at the heart of the international community’s concerns.
World powers have engaged Tehran several times to resolve concerns about its atomic ambitions, which Iran insists are peaceful.
The last round of talks with the the so-called P5+1 — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia — held June in Moscow ended with a stalemate, as did previous rounds.
The sides have failed to agree on a new round of talks, blaming each other for uncertainty over a date and venue.
Iran is under sanctions designed by the United States, the European Union and the UN Security Council to pressure it to curb its controversial nuclear program.
Israel, the sole but undeclared nuclear state in the Middle East, has refused to rule out a military strike to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms.


Tunisia reopens consulate in Libyan capital Tripoli

Updated 30 min 36 sec ago
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Tunisia reopens consulate in Libyan capital Tripoli

  • Most embassies left Tripoli in 2014 when heavy fighting broke out between rival factions.
  • Only a few embassies came back when a UN-backed administration took office in 2016.

Tripoli: Tunisia has reopened its consulate in the Libyan capital, the Libya foreign ministry said on Saturday, the latest mission to return to Tripoli.
Most embassies left Tripoli in 2014 when heavy fighting broke out between rival factions and few came back when a UN-backed administration took office in 2016.
The Tunisian consulate resumed work after talks between the two countries, the Libyan foreign ministry said. The Tunisian foreign ministry declined to comment, but a diplomatic source confirmed the move.
Tunisian had closed its mission 2015 after ten staff were kidnapped.
In recent weeks some Western embassies have sent diplomats for longer stays to Tripoli as security has improved, although few stay full time on the ground.
The Italian and Turkish embassies as well as the UN mission are among the few open.
Tripoli is formally run by a Government of National Accord backed by the UN but in reality controlled by a patchwork of armed groups.
Big street clashes between rival groups have ended, but several rockets which hit Tripoli airport this week were a reminder that security remains shaky.
The UN has been trying to meditate to produce a national government and end the rift between the administration in Tripoli and a rival one in the east, part of a conflict gripping the oil producer since the toppling of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.