Editor’s Note: Breaking update – Although the regime’s rescue team drilled into the site through the entrance of the smaller elevator used by the personnel, no information is available on those trapped inside and the number of casualties or injured.
Further, the International Atomic Energy Agency today, in an unusual move, made a brief statement following media reports over the weekend of significant damage at the underground Fordow uranium enrichment site.
“We understand that Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordow. This is consistent with our observations,” IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an emailed statement in response to a question.
Though IAEA officials did not make it clear as to what observation was being cited, Reuters, reporting the statement, changed its original story by midday stating that the IAEA suggested in its comment that officials had been at the facility after the reports of an explosion there.
However, no official statement by the IAEA has taken place since officials’ last unsuccessful trip to Tehran weeks ago when they requested to visit the suspected Parchin site. The last time IAEA inspectors were at Fordow was late last year. It also has not been allowed to install cameras at Fordow by the Islamic regime in Iran.
Sixteen North Koreans, including 14 technicians and two top military officers, are among those trapped after a Jan. 21 explosion destroyed much of Iran’s Fordow nuclear site, a source reveals.
The source who provided the initial information on the explosion at one of Iran’s most important nuclear sites has now provided details about the degree of the destruction.
The report, published exclusively by WND Jan. 24, is being covered internationally by major media, with independent intelligence sources confirming the explosion for the Times of London and the German Die Welt.
But White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday: “We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible.”
The short White House response, the source said, is an indication that the U.S. wants to steer away from the subject as any covert operation against the regime's nuclear installations will have consequences, including retaliation.
Get the inside story in Reza Kahlili's "A Time To Betray" and learn how the Islamic regime "bought the bomb" in "Atomic Iran."
The Islamic regime's media, in a coordinated effort, reflected a similarly short response Sunday night in its denial and remained silent Monday.
A senior researcher and director of the Centre for Arab & Iranian Studies in London, Ali Reza Nourizadeh, who has many contacts in Iran, confirmed that the explosion had trapped many inside.
According WND's source, a member of the security forces protecting Fordow, 36 North Korean technicians and military officers arrived in Tehran Jan. 15 and 17 and subsequently visited two Iranian nuclear sites under heavy security. One site, still unknown to the West with its vast installation of centrifuges, will be revealed soon by WND. At the other, the Fordow site, the North Koreans were to witness the start-up of six cascades of 174 new-generation, speedier centrifuges.
Hamidreza Zakeri, a former member of the regime's Intelligence Ministry, said 17 technicians and two military supervisors are stationed at the secret site, and 14 technicians and two military officers were at Fordow.
The source said a log on closed-circuit cameras installed by the regime to monitor the site's three centrifuge chambers and two highly enriched uranium reserves gave this account:
- On Jan 21, 14 members of the North Korean team and two military officers now stationed at Fordow along with Iranian scientists started the process of feeding uranium gas into the newly set-up cascades at 9:15 a.m. Tehran time
- At 10:43 a.m., due to a drop in power pressure, system warning signs went off, but everything went back to normal after two minutes.
- At 11:36 a.m., five explosions occurred concurrently in the centrifuge chambers, two explosions in the uranium reserve enclosures and a subsequent explosion in the main hallway close to the exit.
- At the time of the explosions, a very bright red and purple light distorted the image and an extremely loud noise could be heard. Before the explosions knocked out the cameras, interior walls could be seen coming down within the centrifuge chambers. All the explosions seemed to have been initiated from the ceilings.
- All cameras on the lowest floor (about 300 feet deep under a mountain) and the floor above it (about 250 feet deep) were knocked out, and only two cameras above the installation where security personnel are stationed were working.
- Security forces immediately informed their superiors, who ordered them to remain in the monitoring room and avoid further communication with the outside world until counterintelligence forces arrived. Twenty-one personnel were gathered in a conference room to await further instruction.
- Security forces were then told to close down all surrounding roads.
- Approximately two hours after the explosions, counterintelligence agents arrived and, after interviewing personnel and reviewing tapes, initially concluded that explosives may have been placed in ceiling lamps with some kind of trigger mechanism controlled by a power voltage frequency.
- The last images show eight personnel in anti-radiation clothing trying desperately to secure one of the rooms.
The regime believes the technology used with the explosives is unknown to their forces, the source said.
Iranian authorities fear that opening the site from the outside in a rescue mission could possibly release radiation and uranium gas or cause further explosions, which could contaminate thousands of people living nearby, the source said.
As of Monday, the regime had not come up with any concrete rescue plan, though more than 200 people remain trapped, including the North Koreans, he said. He added that an agreement reached last September between North Korea and Iran called for further collaboration on Iran's nuclear bomb project and the arming of missiles with nuclear warheads.
Another source in the Intelligence Ministry said that in a meeting Monday among top officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was decided that the international community would be kept in the dark about the disaster because any validation would undermine current negotiating with the 5+1 world powers.
An admission would also undermine the regime from within should Iranians react to its illicit nuclear activity and the international sanctions it caused, which are being felt deeply.
The source added that the regime is contemplating showing old images of the interior of the site to buy time until it can accurately estimate the extent of damage and possible loss of lives. Ahmadinejad will hold a parliamentary meeting behind closed doors on the issue Thursday.
Despite severe international pressure and sanctions, Iran had refused to halt the 20-percent uranium enrichment process at Fordow. It takes only weeks to further enrich the stock at the 20-percent level to weaponization grade for a nuclear bomb.