Reports are circulating that an important nuclear facility in Iran has been at least partially destroyed in a massive explosion. The news comes just days after an ex-Iranian diplomat who defected to the West warned that if Iran obtained a nuclear weapon, it would use that weapon against Israel.
The explosion reportedly took place at the Fordo nuclear facility near the city of Qom. Fordo is buried deep under a mountain, making it nearly immune to aerial assault, and therefore a perfect location for a significant portion of Iran's uranium enrichment activities.
According to reports in the American news website WorldNetDaily, which cited a former Iranian defense official who fled to the West, the explosion caused a collapse of the elevators that descend nearly 300 feet into the mountain facility, trapping some 240 personnel inside.
Tehran is said to be blaming the explosion on sabotage. Both Israel and the US are known to have taken various measures against Iran's defiant nuclear program over the past several years. Though Israel did not officially respond to speculation that it was behind the blast, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter told Yediot Ahronot that "any explosion in Iran that doesn't hurt people but hurts its assets is welcome."
The debate over whether or not to take decisive action against Iran's nuclear program has been intensifying, especially after Iran's former consul in Oslo, Mohammed Reza Hedyari, told Israel's Channel 2 News that Iran is only one year away from fielding a nuclear weapon, which it will turn on Israel.
"If Iran is given more time, it will acquire the knowledge necessary to build a nuclear bomb within a year," Heydari told Israeli television viewers last Friday. "If Iran gets to the point where it has an atomic bomb, it will certainly use it, against Israel or any other enemy state."
The former diplomat suggested that it was a grave mistake for Western leaders to think that the Iranian leadership will be pragmatic with its nuclear weapons, in the way former Soviet leaders were.
Iran's leaders "are busying themselves with ideological preparations for the arrival of the 'hidden Imam' (a kind of Muslim messiah)," he said. "For this purpose, they are willing to spill much blood and destroy many countries."
Heydari defected to Norway in 2010.