Iran mourns missile expert as report
links blast to Israel
Ma'an, November 14, 2011, 20:48 TEHRAN (AFP) --
Iran held solemn funerals for 17 Revolutionary Guards killed in a
munitions blast on Monday, including a key figure in its ballistic
missiles program, as a US magazine pointed a finger at Israel.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attended one ceremony held
in Tehran, in honor of Major General Hassan Moqaddam and seven other
Guards members, according to footage aired by state television.
Moqaddam, responsible for industrial research to ensure the Guards'
self-sufficiency in armaments, specialized in artillery during the 1980s
Iraq-Iran war before founding the force's ballistic program, according
to information provided by officials in Tehran.
Revolutionary Guards were killed on Saturday in an explosion described
as accidental by Iran that rocked a military base in Bid Ganeh, some 20
kilometers west of Tehran.
The blast occurred as "ammunition was
taken out of the depot and was being moved outside toward the
appropriate site," Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif said, without
mentioning why Moqaddam was present at the site.
deputy said he "was busy with his scientific research work until his
"He had an accident as he was carrying out
scientific and research tasks and was martyred," commander Mousavi,
whose first name was not given, was quoted as telling the ISNA news
Moqaddam had "spent 25 years of his life to establish and
develop the (missile) defense program" of Iran, Mousavi added.
Set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Guards are in charge of
Iran's missile program, including Shahab-3 missiles with a range of
2,000 kilometers capable of hitting Israel.
Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday hailed the deadly munitions blast and said
he hoped for more such incidents.
"I don't know the extent of the
explosion," Barak told Israel's military radio when asked about the
incident. "But it would be desirable if they multiply."
magazine on Monday said the explosion was the work of the Israeli spy
agency Mossad, citing an unidentified "Western intelligence source."
"Don't believe the Iranians that it was an accident," the source
told Time, adding that other plans were in effect to prevent Tehran from
acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. "There are more bullets in the
A top Guards commander meanwhile admitted Monday that
Moqaddam had been a sought-after potential target, without questioning
the cause of the incident.
"Iran's current missile capability is
owed to commander Moqaddam's efforts," Brigadier General Abbas Khani
told the official IRNA news agency, adding that "due to his role... the
enemy always wanted to identify and eliminate him."
blast came amid international condemnation of Iran following the release
of a new UN nuclear watchdog report accusing Tehran of working towards
the development of nuclear warheads to fit inside its medium-range
Iran has long rejected Western and Israeli allegations
that its nuclear program is geared toward military objectives, saying
its activities are solely civilian.
Israeli officials in past
weeks have warned Iran of the possibility of military strikes against
its nuclear sites.
US military experts in late October proposed
in Congress that the United States organize covert operations to
assassinate commanders of the Revolutionary Guards.
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