Loud Blast Reportedly Rocks Iranian City of Isfahan

A loud explosion was heard in several parts of the western Iranian city of Isfahan Monday, the semi-official FARS news agency reported, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The report immediately touched off a blitz of confusing and contradictory information about the cause of the blast - or whether it had taken place at all.

FOX News Channel reported the Pentagon and the International Atomic Energy Agency both said they had no reports of an explosion in the city, which has a uranium conversion plant nearby.

At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at the daily briefing, "we don't have any information other than what we've seen in the press…but we're looking into it."

Haaretz also quoted the deputy governor of Isfahan province as saying, "So far no report of a major explosion has been heard from any government body in Isfahan," according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

But then, Haaretz said, the same deputy mayor confirmed the reports when speaking with Fars and said authorities were investigating.

According to Haaretz, the head of the city's judiciary said an explosion-like sound was heard, while the Mehr news agency reported there had been a blast at a gas station near the city.
Another report pointed to a training accident, the newspaper said.

Haaretz noted the uranium conversion plant near Isfahan has an important function in the chain of Iran's nuclear program, but did not say that was the cause of the explosion. The plant first went into operation in 2004.

The blast comes two weeks after what was described as an accidental explosion killed Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam and 20 other members of the Revolutionary Guard at a military base about 25 miles southwest of Tehran. The Guard said the blast came while they were transporting munitions.

Isfahan, with a population of 1.5 million, is Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad.