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Iranian Officer Blames Blast On Construction Accident

16 February 2005 -- A senior Iranian military official says the explosion that was reported today near the southwestern port city of Deylam was a construction accident.

State television reported that the blast occurred near the southern port city of Dailam, which is north of a nuclear power plant under construction.

Al-Alam television's Arabic language station said the explosion might have been caused by a fuel tank dropped into an uninhabited area from an Iranian plane.

The Iranian Interior Ministry has said it has no reason to believe that the reported explosion near the southwestern port city of Deylam might have been caused by "a hostile attack."

Ali Reza Afshar, deputy to the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, told state television that the blast, about 180 kilometers from the Bushehr nuclear reactor, was made by construction workers building a road at the site of a dam.

Earlier, Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani had told The Associated Press that "there is a big possibility that it was a friendly fire [military accident]." He said several such incidents had been reported there in recent days but did not give any further details.

However, Secretary of the Publicity Committee of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Aqamohammadi denied that a blast had even occurred.

Russia has completed construction work at the Bushehr nuclear reactor, but it is not yet operational. The United States has expressed fears that the deal could help Tehran build nuclear weapons.