Monday, October 6, 2014

Large Explosion At Iran Nuclear Site

There's been a mysterious and possibly deadly explosion at an Iranian facility that the US and international monitors believe was once used to test nuclear weapons components — and that Tehran has barred International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from visiting.

According to The New York Times, an explosion at the Parchin military installation caused an "enormous orange flash that illuminated Tehran." Iranian officials "confirmed that two people were missing after 'an ordinary fire' caused by 'chemical reactions of flammable material,'" according to the Times account.
But this is hardly the only suspicious explosion to hit a sensitive Iranian military facility, and it's unlikely that Iran would admit to an act of sabotage. In 2011, the architect of Iran's ballistic missile program waskilled in a suspicious blast. And there have been several assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in recent years, killings that have been blamed on both Israel and the Mujahideen el-Khalk, an anti-regime militant group.

And Parchin was apparently home to infrastructure needed to develop ballistic triggers for a uranium-based nuclear detonation, work thatapparently took place at the facility prior to 2004 when these activities were discovered and made public by the US and international regulators.
Iran is currently barring international inspectors from visiting Parchin. It's a place of potential significance to Iran's nuclear program; if today's explosion was in fact an assassination it would suggest that some kind of sensitive work is still going on there. The question is what that work could be — and what Parchin's significance might be to a nuclear program whose final status is still being negotiated by Iran, the US, and its international partners.

According to David Albright, a physicist and the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, Parchin has some of the most sophisticated ballistics technology in Iran, including slow-motion diagnostic cameras needed for the close analysis of projectiles and explosives. Parchin is the only place in Iran known to have these research and development capabilities — which means that if Iran were still trying to develop a trigger for a future nuclear device, it would be doing it either at Parchin or at some other, as-et undiscovered complex.
"It's the logical place for it to occur because you need special facilities to handle high explosives, bunkers to store them, diagnostic equipment to analyze the experiments ... and it's not easy to create that infrastructure," Albright told Business Insider. Parchin might even have a high-explosives chamber where Iranian researchers may once have been planning to test a mock-up of an atomic bomb, Albright explained.

If yesterday's explosion was sabotage, then at least one player in the Iranian nuclear drama is still deeply suspicious of whatever's still going on there.

It was just yesterday when, in an interview with CNN, Israel PM Netanyahu reminded the world that before there was ISIS, there was Israel's most loathed enemy Iran, and told Fareed Zakaria that in addition to combating ISIS, Netanyahu said Israel and other moderate Arab states see Iran’s nuclear program as a “twin” challenge that goes hand-in-hand with stopping the spread of radical Islam. From that point on it was only a matter of time before something exploded.
That something took place a few hours ago when a large explosion took place near a suspected nuclear site in Iran has reportedly killed two people and according to theWashington Free Beacon, prompted speculation of sabotage at a military site long suspected of housing Tehran’s clandestine nuclear activities, according to Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO), which operates under the country’s Ministry of Defense.

The Free Beacon, citing Fars New Agency, reports that one explosion rocked a production plant late Sunday night in east Tehran, near the Parchin nuclear site.  The explosion at a facility referred to as a “production plant” caused a fire that killed two workers, according to Fars, which cited information provided by Iran’s DIO. Fars first reported news of the explosion, claiming that it took place at an “explosive material factory” near Parchin. According to Iran opposition sources, the blast killed at least four military personnel.

Official state run outlets, which often censor material, quoted the head of Tehran’s Fire Squad as saying that four fire stations responded to control the fire and that some were “wounded” during this. These officialreports acknowledge that Parchin is a military site, but claim that actual explosion took place at a non-military installation used as a waste storage depot.

Other thinly sourced reports, such as one from London’s Manoto TV, claimed that as many as 35 were killed in the explosion, though no such number has been confirmed.

Other reports referred to a “strong” and “tremendous explosion” that “shook Eastern Tehran” and blew out the windows of a nearby building and impacted about a 10-mile area, according to Saham News.

The report also cites the explosion as taking place near the “Parchin military site,” which has been known to house “high explosives” and other work related to Iran’s nuclear program, according to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

“The Parchin site is among the military sites of Tehran which produce solid fuel for ballistic missiles without any safety rules and precautions,” Saham reported, according to a translation provided by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Iranian security forces blocked off local streets and assumed a presence near the facility following the explosion, according to the report.

In addition to Netanyahu's veiled threat, it bears observing that the explosion came just hours before inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Organization were set to tour some of Iran’s nuclear sites, according to Fars.
Iran has long claimed that Western nations and Israel are attempting to sabotage its nuclear site, and has been, for the most part, correct in accusing Israel of sabotage-related provocations, whether via STUXnet, by drone or by conventional weapon means.
It remains to be seen if this just the latest provocative Israeli act that it hopes nobody notices or comments on, and later is shocked to find when its neighbor states retaliate.

As Americans worry about Ebola, the swiftly spreading virus that has traveled from West Africa to Texas, a more silent killer poses a greater danger. It sounds pedestrian, easy to dismiss.
That’s what makes it so devastating.
The U.S. health system is now under assault by antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Drug-resistant bacteria killed 23,000 people in America last year and caused 2 million illnesses. It is getting worse, health experts say.
Fears of Ebola have ratcheted up since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the first case of the disease had been diagnosed on U.S. soil. But unlike Ebola, which officials insist has little chance of getting out of control domestically, some bacterial infections are now resistant to all antibiotics and are completely untreatable.
Doctors and others in American medicine have unparalleled knowledge about the spread of illness, but they can do little to fend off superbugs unless there is a big decline in the use of antibiotics and a rapid increase in the development of new drugs to treat seemingly routine ailments.

Put another way, Americans could start to die from some of the same illnesses that cut down people living in the Dark Ages.
“The growth of anti-microbial resistance threatens to end the antibiotic era, returning us to a time when even simple infections were often fatal,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Washington Examiner.

“A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century,” the organization warned.

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