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U.N. won't deny explosions at Iran nuke plant

Responding to WND, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, refused to deny that Iran’s nuclear facility at Fordow has been rocked by several explosions.

WND reported exclusively that its source said explosions devastated the Fordow facility Jan. 21 and that over 200 people, including North Korean technicians and military personnel, were trapped inside the site, which is deep under a mountain.

In a statement to Reuters, IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor implied the U.N. agency had inspected the site after the reported explosions and affirmed Tehran’s insistence that the report was false.

But when asked by WND, Tudor would not confirm or deny the incident.

“The agency does not evaluate matters in Iran other than those directly relating to its nuclear verification work, so although we’re aware of these media reports, we are not in a position either to confirm or deny them,” Tudor said in an email to WND.

“That said,” she continued, “I’m sure you are aware that agency inspectors regularly visit Iranian nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s safeguards agreement with that country. (You will find more information on the IAEA’s safeguards mandate and activities in Iran at http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/iaeairan/index.shtml.)

“We understand Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordow, and this is consistent with our observations,” Tudor said.

However, in a follow-up inquiry by WND to verify if the IAEA had inspected the site since the report of the explosions, Tudor refused to answer.

“I’m very sorry but I can’t go into any further details on ongoing safeguards work, which is conducted with a high level of confidentiality,” she replied.

Separately, the Institute for Science and International Security has obtained a satellite image of the Fordow site dated Jan. 22, one day after the incident. The photo shows no unusual activity on the surface. However, WND’s original report indicated the regime did not initially make an effort to rescue the workers trapped inside until days ago. No unusual traffic, therefore, would have been visible.

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Meanwhile, the Iranian Fars News Agency reports the Revolutionary Guards navy today began a three-day war maneuver in the Persian Gulf. The state-controlled news service ran the headline: “The preparation of the Guards for the most dangerous events.”

At the same time, the Islamic regime’s Intelligence Ministry announced the arrest of what it called an information network connected to the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Further confirmation

WND has received confirmation of the blasts from two additional sources, one in Iran’s Foreign Ministry and another in the intelligence agency of a European country.

Another source in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office told WND the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, will be replaced because of the leaked news on Fordow and the delay in the talks with the 5-plus-1 powers over Iran’s nuclear development. The 5-plus-1 nations are the permanent Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

The news became international when the Israeli intelligence agency confirmed it to the Times of London, the Israeli acting defense minister welcomed the news and the leading German daily Die Welt confirmed it through its own sources.

However, the White House has dismissed the report.

Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday, “We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible.”

Worries about Iran’s response

An official with a European intelligence agency who cannot be named for security reasons said that both the IAEA and the United States are worried about questioning Iran’s denial.

They are aware of Iran’s lies, the official said, but fear Tehran could stop the cooperation it so far has provided to the IAEA over inspections and derail any future talks with the 5-plus-1.

The official said the regime’s response and its censorship of the details of the news alone verify that some kind of incident took place. He said Iran could lose all negotiating power if it admits the incident happened.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry source, in confirming the explosions, said today the Iranian Air Force is on high alert for war. The regime believes Israel and certain powers have started a plot to destabilize the regime’s nuclear installations and economy.

Internal troubles

Since WND reported the explosions, the Iranian currency, which had already been battered by international sanctions, has lost another 20 percent in value.

A source in the regime’s Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit told WND the situation in Iran is troubling. He reported an explosion at the Guards’ Hamzeh 21 base and the discovery of two bombs at the secret nuclear plant in Najaf Abad. He said Quds Force officers have been ordered to Lebanon to assist Hezbollah in evacuating some of the southern villages in what appears to be planned aggression against Israel.

WND reported Jan. 21 that the regime’s intelligence agency received information of major covert operations planned by Israel and other countries to set back Iran’s nuclear program while avoiding a larger-scale war.

The last meeting between U.N. inspectors and Iranian counterparts was held in Tehran two weeks ago. At the meeting, inspectors failed to get the regime to allow inspection of the Parchin military site where it is believed nuclear component tests were carried out. The inspectors left Tehran Jan. 18, three days before the Fordow explosions.

Last September, Iranian officials said they had thwarted attempted sabotage at the Fordow uranium enrichment plant.

“The enemies intended to repeat a Chernobyl-like disaster through selling (booby-trapped) equipment and blowing up the centrifuges at the Fordow site, but their plot was discovered and foiled by the Iranian scientists’ wisdom and tact,” Abbas-Ali Mansouri, a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, told Fars that separate attacks on Iran’s centrifuges – through tiny explosives meant to disable key parts of the machines – were discovered before the blasts could go off on timers.