Massive Blaze Rips Through Iranian Port Near Nuclear Power Station As Seven Ships Burn
15 July 2020 (Reuters) – At least eight ships have caught fire at Iran’s Bushehr port, the Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday, in what appeared to be the latest in a series of fires and explosions around the country, some of which have hit sensitive sites.
No casualties have been reported, the agency said. Plumes of dense black smoke billowed into the air, in a photograph of the incident published by the official IRNA news agency. State broadcaster IRIB showed fighters tackling clouds of smoke at a shipyard at the southern port on the Gulf.
There have been several explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities since late June, including a fire at Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear facility on July 2. Natanz is the centerpiece of Iran’s enrichment program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes. Western intelligence agencies and the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog (IAEA) believe it had a coordinated, clandestine nuclear arms program that it halted in 2003. Tehran denies ever seeking nuclear weapons.
Iran’s top security body said on July 3 that the cause of the Natanz fire had been determined but would be announced at a later time. Some Iranian officials have said it may have been cyber sabotage and one of them warned that Tehran would retaliate against any country carrying out such attacks.
In an article in early July, state news agency IRNA addressed what it called the possibility of sabotage by enemies such as Israel and the United States, although it stopped short of accusing either directly.
On Monday, there was a fire at an industrial zone near the north-eastern city of Mashhad. Officials said six gas storage tanks caught fire, and that one exploded.
The previous day, a fire broke out at a petrochemical facility in the south-western Mahshahr area which was blamed on an oil leak.
And on Saturday, several gas cylinders exploded inside the basement of an apartment building in Tehran, the capital’s fire department said.
Iranian officials have said they are looking into whether sabotage by foreign powers or domestic opposition groups may have been the cause of earlier blasts at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant on 2 July and the Khojir missile production facility on 26 June.