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Two More Fires In Iran Raise Questions Again About Possible Sabotage

A fire at what local media said is a cell phone factory in Iran. July 19, 2020
A fire at what local media said is a cell phone factory in Iran. July 19, 2020

Two more mysterious fires in Iran on Sunday, July 19 have once again raised questions about similar recent incidents, including a suspected explosion and fire at the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

Other suspicious events were a large fire at a sensitive military region near Tehran and a shipyard in Bushehr on the Persian Gulf and numerous other fires at refineries and other infrastructure facilities.

One of today's fires also occurred in a power plant that feeds the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan.

Although the early morning fire caused no injuries, it raised more questions about recent puzzling blazes across the country.

The Islamic Republic's official news agency, IRNA, reported that a large fifty-year-old transformer exploded at a power station in Isfahan but cited officials as insisting that the damage was being repaired and the power supply was uninterrupted.

A "worn out transformer… at Isfahan's Islamabad thermal power plant exploded at around 5:00 am today," the managing director of Isfahan's electricity company Saeed Mohseni told the agency.

Also, a fire broke out at a cellophane factory in northwest Iran, the state-run Iran Labor News Agency ILNA reported, posting a video of thick black smoke rising from the site.

According to eyewitnesses in northeast Iran, the blaze on Sunday occurred near or at a thermal power plant, but local media said the fire was at a cellophane factory.

Iranian authorities called the Natanz fire an accident without elaborating and later said they would not reveal the cause, citing "security reasons".

The string of fires and explosions have prompted speculation that they may be the result of sabotage by Iran’s arch-enemy Israel, AFP reported.

Western observers have closely watched the recent consecutive fires in Iran, and some have attributed them to covert operations by Israel or Western intelligence agents.

The New York Times cited a Middle Eastern intelligence official as saying earlier this month that Israel had been behind the fire that hit the Natanz nuclear facility and severely damaged it.

Without naming any sources, Israeli TV reports also said the blast destroyed the laboratory in which Iran developed faster centrifuges. According to Israeli experts, the Natanz facility incident will delay Iran's plan to upgrade its centrifuges for two years.