DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) – A loud explosion hit a military industry factory near the central Iranian city of Isfahan overnight, in what Tehran said on Sunday was a drone attack by unidentified assailants.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came amid tensions with the West over Tehran’s nuclear work and Russia’s wartime arms supply to Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. Iran’s Defense Ministry said the explosion caused only minor damage and no casualties.
Iranian media video showing a flash of light inside the plant, which the official IRNA news agency described as a munitions factory. Footage showed emergency vehicles and fire trucks outside the complex.
“Around 23:30 (2000 GMT) on Saturday evening, an unsuccessful attack was carried out with micro Aerial Vehicles (MAV) on one of the ministry’s workshop sites,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement carried by Iranian state TV.
He said that one drone was shot down “and the other two were caught in defense traps and blown up. It only caused minor damage to the roof of a workshop building. There were no casualties.”
The attack “did not affect our installations and missions … and such blind measures have no impact on the continuation of the country’s progress.”
Separately, IRNA reported early Sunday a massive fire at a motor oil factory in an industrial area near the northwestern city of Tabriz. He did not give any information about the cause of that fire.
Iran has in the past accused its archenemy Israel of planning attacks with agents on Iranian soil. In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team made up of Kurdish militants working for Israel who were planning to blow up a “sensitive” defense industry center in Isfahan.
An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment when asked if Israel had any connection to the latest incident. Israel has long said it could attack Iran if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programs, but has a policy of withholding comment on specific incidents.
In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying hundreds of drones to Russia to attack civilian targets in cities far from the front, a former aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy linked the incident directly to the war.
“The logic of war is inexorable and murderous. It charges the perpetrators and accomplices strictly,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Explosive night in Iran – production of drones and missiles, oil refineries. You have been warned.”
Several Iranian nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, the center of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. There have been a number of explosions and fires around to Iran’s military, nuclear and industrial facilities in recent years.
Talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have been stalled since September. Under the deal, abandoned by Washington under President Donald Trump, Iran agreed to limit nuclear work in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia, but says they were sent before Moscow invaded Ukraine last year. Moscow denies that its forces are using Iranian drones in Ukraine, although several have been shot down and recovered there.
Tehran has also faced internal turmoil in recent months, with a crackdown on widespread anti-government demonstrations spurred by the death in custody of a woman detained for violating dress codes.
Reporting by Dubai Newsroom Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Daniel Wallis, Cynthia Osterman, Josie Kao, Peter Graff
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