JEDDAH/DUBAI: Iranian authorities invited widespread ridicule on Sunday by insisting that large explosions in several areas in the west of the country were caused by thunderstorms.
Majid Mirahmadi, an official at the Interior Ministry, insisted: “After liaising with the relevant security and military agencies, it was determined that the sounds were caused by thunder and lightning and no special incident occurred.
However, the governor of the western town of Asadabad ruled out the possibility of thunderstorms as the source of reported loud blasts heard in several Iranian cities and towns.
One blast in the town of Asadabad caused panic among residents. “The intensity of the sound in some places was such that doors and windows of houses shook and people left their homes,” the Rokna news website said on its Telegram channel.
After several similar explosions in recent months, authorities said the Iranian military was holding unannounced air defense drills amid rising tensions with Israel and the US over Iran’s nuclear program.
Over the past two years, numerous mysterious explosions and fires have occurred at military, nuclear and industrial sites in Iran.
Two explosions at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility were clearly the result of sabotage.
Other explosions have taken place at missile sites, petrochemical plants, power stations and medical clinics. Previous explanations by the Tehran regime have included faulty safety procedures, human error, and, in one case, an earthquake.
Nevertheless, many analysts believe Iran is the target of a campaign of sabotage attacks by Israel as part of a “shadow war” between the two countries linked to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Most recently, in late 2021, there was a major explosion on an Iranian vessel docked at Latakia port in Syria, a fire broke out at an Iranian petrochemical factory on Khark Island in the Gulf, three people were injured in a fire at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps research center west of Tehran, and a cyberattack crippled gas stations across Iran.
Israel has long threatened military action against Iran if indirect talks with Washington and Tehran fail to salvage a 2015 nuclear pact that then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.