Iran's Revolutionary Guard said a blast at a munitions site on Saturday had taken the life of a critical player in the country's missile efforts, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Sept. 22).
The detonation at the site 25 miles from Tehran resulted in the death of Gen. Hasan Moghaddam, who headed a Revolutionary Guard weapons "self-sufficiency" unit, as well as 16 other personnel with the armed forces branch. The service said the blast took place by chance during the transfer of weapons material; the reason for Moghaddam's presence was not specified (Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press/Google News, Nov. 13).
A number of missiles built to hit more distant targets underwent vetting during Moghaddam's tenure, the New York Times reported. Among such weapons is Iran's Shahab 3 ballistic missile, which intelligence services consider capable of striking Israel with its assessed range of 1,250 miles (New York Times, Nov. 13).
The Revolutionary Guard would remember Moghaddam's "effective role in the development of the country's defense ... and his efforts in launching and organizing the Guard's artillery and missile units," the military branch said in a portion of the statement carried by state media.
Moghaddam was largely responsible for the Persian Gulf nation's missile activities, Revolutionary Guard officer Saeed Qasemi told the hardline website Rajanews.com. "A major part of (our) progress in the field of missile capability and artillery was due to round-the-clock efforts by martyr Moghaddam," AP quoted him as saying.
Revolutionary Guard officer Gen. Mostafa Izadi said the deceased official was a "founder of the Guard's surface-to-surface missile system" (Dareini, Associated Press).
Speaking on Monday during Moghaddam's burial rites, Revolutionary Guard deputy commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami described the official as "the main architect of the Revolutionary Guard's ... missile power and the founder of the deterrent power of our country," Reuters reported (Ramin Mostafavi, Reuters, Nov. 14).
The Iranian resistance group People's Mujahedeen alleged that the detonation took place near a missile facility, not a munitions site, AP reported (Dareini, Associated Press).
The Yediot Aharonot newspaper in Israel referred to a number of analyses indicating that the detonation was "the result of a military operation based on intelligence information," the London Telegraph reported. A People's Mujahedeen spokesman rejected one U.S. observer's assertion that the group had played a role in the incident (Richard Spencer, London Telegraph, Nov. 13).
Israel's intelligence service was behind the blast, one Western government source told Time magazine.
"Don't believe the Iranians that it was an accident," the intelligence insider said.
The official said other plots are in development to slow Iran's progress toward a nuclear-weapon capability: "There are more bullets in the magazine." The Middle Eastern nation says its atomic activities have no military component (see related GSN story, today; Karl Vick, Time, Nov. 13).
Meanwhile, Iran intends to soon fire into orbit three indigenously built satellites, the nation's Press TV quoted Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying on Saturday (see GSN, Oct. 4).
Iran's space program has drawn concerns from the global community, as technology used to place objects into orbit can also be applied to ballistic missiles, according to earlier reports (Press TV, Nov. 13).