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Three Iranian 'Missile Researchers' Killed In A Fire As Netanyahu Warns Iran

Iranian Space Research Center

Iran's Minister of Telecommunications, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi says three Iranian aerospace researchers have died in a fire that broke out at the Iranian Space Research Center affiliated with the ministry.

Jahromi said that the fire at the Space Research Center broke out while elsewhere at the center others were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran and did not notice what happened. However, he did not elaborate on the reason for the fire and the names of those who lost their lives in the incident.

Jahromi broke the news while speaking on the launch of new Iranian satellites. Reports coming from Tehran on Sunday indicate that the fire broke out while Jahromi was delivering his speech.

Meanwhile, reacting to Iran's cruise missile test on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tehran, "We know what you are doing and where you are doing it. We will continue to take action against Iran with all the tools at our disposal in order to ensure the security and future of Israel," according to the video of his remarks shown by Israeli media.

At the same time, Iranian Passive Defense Chief has said on Sunday that another fire broke out at the same time at the basement of the Iranian Power Research Center but the fire has been controlled and no one was injured in the incident.

In previous years, cyber-attacks on Iranian aerospace and nuclear centers have caused problems for Tehran's ambitious programs.

According to the New York Times, a joint U.S.-Israeli cyber attack caused a delay in Iran's nuclear program in 2011 when Stuxnet malware disrupted Iran's uranium enrichment plans. The report says the malware was first tested for two years at Israel's Dimona nuclear plant.

Meanwhile in September 2016 the Associated Press reported that a series of fires at Iran's petrochemical plants were possibly linked to sabotage in their software systems.

In another development, an explosion at an ammunition depot in Bidgeneh, near Tehran, killed the father of Iran's missile program, Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam as well as 16 other IRGC officers.

On January 15, Iranian officials reported that a missile carrying the Payam satellite to orbit failed to reach the required altitude and the satellite was not deployed.

The attempt to launch the missile that carried Payam was condemned by France and the United States as an act in violation of UN Resolution 2231. However, Iranian officials insisted that Tehran would continue its missile program.

The fire at the Iranian Space Research Center coincided with the news of Iran's "successful test" of a new cruise missile on Saturday with a range of over 1,350 kilometers (840 miles), coinciding with the anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Defense Minister Amir Hatami said the Hoveizeh cruise missile had successfully hit its targets, calling it the "long arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

On the same day, The deputy chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) warned Europe against forcing the Islamic Republic into boosting the range of its missiles by trying to halt their development.

"If the Europeans, or anyone else, want to conspire to disarm Iran of missiles, we will be forced to make a strategic leap," the guards' deputy commander Brigadier-General Hossein Salami said on state TV on Saturday, warning, "All those who hear me today, come to terms with the new reality of Iran's missile might: there are no obstacles or technical limitations to us increasing (their) range," he added.

Meanwhile, reacting to Iran's missile test by saying "Israel will do everything possible to counter Tehran's hostile actions for the sake of the country's security as Iran has overtly demonstrated its intention to destroy Israel when unveiling its new cruise missile."

According to Netanyahu's press service, he said at a cabinet meeting, "In Iran today they… are trying to boast about the new missile. Iran openly declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel. I have a clear message to the tyrants of Tehran: We know what you are doing and where you are doing it. We will continue to take action against Iran with all the tools at our disposal in order to ensure the security and future of Israel".