This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
A commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) says the death of a Defense Ministry engineer in May was the result of “industrial sabotage,” not simply an “accident” as official comments previously suggested.
The commander, Mohammad Reza Hassani Ahangar, did not say who officials believe might have been behind any purported attack in the comments as quoted by the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency.
“Our production lines are being targeted for industrial sabotage,” he said, referring to the recent killing of a Defense Ministry employee in Parchin.
“The martyr of the Ministry of Defense himself was not targeted, but his death was affected by industrial sabotage,” he added.
Iran’s Defense Ministry said a month ago that an “accident” had occurred at one of its research units in the Parchin area near Tehran, killing engineer Ehsan Ghad Beigi and injuring a colleague.
Parchin, some 60 kilometers southeast of Tehran, is a military base where the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, previously said it suspected that Iran had conducted tests related to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago.
The Defense Ministry did not elaborate on the suspected cause or provide any further details, saying an investigation was under way.
The New York Times later reported that the fatal explosion at the military site had been caused by quadcopter suicide drones.
Tehran has blamed Israel for a series of incidents, including assassinations, sabotage, and cyberattacks. Tel Aviv is believed to have been behind the assassinations of at least five Iranian nuclear scientists in the past decade. The assassinations have raised questions about the possibility of foreign intelligence agencies penetrating Iran’s security apparatus.
Western concerns over the Iranian atomic program led to sanctions and eventually to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which was subsequently abandoned by the United States, which then reimposed crippling sanctions.
Talks to revive the deal broke down in March just as an agreement seemed to be within reach.
Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, but it is now enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity — its highest level ever and a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.