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Explosion recorded at nuclear power plant in Iran

Tehran said the explosion occurred at 5 a.m. and was related to air defence exercises, but warned of a crushing response if it was an Israeli attack
File photo, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on 8 October 2021.

PHOTO/Official website of the Presidency via REUTERS  -   File photo, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on 8 October 2021.

An explosion at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, in the southern region of Iran, was reported in the early hours of Monday morning. According to official sources in the Islamist republic, the explosion was linked to aerial manoeuvres. This was stated by the deputy governor for politics and public security, Mohamad Taqi, who acknowledged that an air exercise aimed at increasing "the defence capabilities of the Armed Forces" had taken place in Bushehr. "This exercise was carried out in full preparation and coordination with the air force," the deputy governor acknowledged.

However, Tehran has vowed that it will give "a crushing response" against any Israeli attack. "If Israel carries out attacks against Iran, our armed forces will immediately attack all centres, bases, routes and spaces used to carry out the aggression," said Gholamali Rashid, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

Esta foto de la oficina del Ejército iraní el 13 de octubre de 2021 muestra a los soldados durante el segundo día de un ejercicio militar conjunto entre el Ejército iraní y el Cuerpo de la Guardia Revolucionaria Islámica (IRGC)
AFP PHOTO/HO/IRANIAN ARMY OFFICE - This photo from the Iranian Army office on October 13, 2021 shows soldiers during the second day of a joint military exercise between the Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

These statements come in the midst of escalating tensions between Iran and Israel. Tehran on Monday launched an air defence exercise in the country's southern provinces, including Bushehr, to prepare for possible clashes with Israel.

Israel, for its part, has carried out several attacks against facilities linked to Iran's nuclear programme, most recently another explosion last November in Natanz, the city that hosts Iran's main nuclear research facility, which left several casualties at the facility.

Esta foto facilitada por la oficina del Ejército iraní el 12 de octubre de 2021 muestra una vista de un lanzador de misiles antiaéreos disparando durante un ejercicio militar conjunto entre el Ejército iraní y el Cuerpo de la Guardia Revolucionaria Islámica (IRGC)
AFP PHOTO/HO/IRANIAN ARMY OFFICE - This photo provided by the Iranian Army office on October 12, 2021 shows a view of an anti-aircraft missile launcher firing during a joint military exercise between the Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

These Israeli attacks against Iran are due to Tel Aviv's total opposition to the resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran's 2015 nuclear programme with several world powers. 

Despite this, talks in Vienna between Iran and the United States to reinstate this nuclear pact have made little progress since they resumed last month. They are expected to resume on 27 December, and according to the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, "in the coming days, the coordinator of the nuclear talks will announce the exact date," he announced, referring to Enrique Mora, chief of staff to Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. However, until the date has arrived, Iran is accelerating its nuclear advances, threatening Israel's plans.

Tel Aviv's warnings of a confrontation that would put an end to Iran's nuclear programme have been constant in order to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear bomb, something that only Israel has, for now. Israel has repeatedly threatened to take unilateral measures and has approved measures to do so, such as the one approved last October for a budget of more than 1.3 million euros to prepare its army for a possible attack against Iran. 

Fotografía de archivo, en esta foto publicada el viernes 15 de enero de 2021 por la Guardia Revolucionaria iraní, se lanzan misiles en un simulacro en Irán
PHOTO/Iranian Revolutionary Guard/Sepahnews via AP - File photo, in this photo released Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, missiles are launched in a drill in Iran

The United States, for its part, has proposed preparing options in case "diplomacy fails" in the nuclear talks with Iran. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki announced that the US "is committed to ensuring that Iran never develops nuclear weapons". Israel has seized on this opportunity, prompting its defence minister, Benjamin Gantz, to remind the US of the possibility of a military strike against Iran.

Tehran's response has been clear: "Any threat to Iran's nuclear sites and military bases by the Zionist regime is not possible without the green light from the United States," said Ghomali Rashid.