Iran is holding three suspects who entered the country from Azerbaijan under intense grilling to discover their role in the mid-August explosion of the power lines to the underground uranium enrichment site at Fordo, debkafile’s exclusive Iranian sources reveal. Tehran is also questioning the engineers, planners and company heads who built the facility to find out why it was not provided with an independent power generator.
Fordo was forced to be idle for several days until the Revolutionary Guards were able to set up an alternative electrical network at top speed. Iranian investigators suspect that local builders of Fordo may have been bribed by Israeli and American agents to omit this back-up system and so leave the enrichment plant vulnerable to external attack that would interrupt its continuous operation. Their inquiries have even reached the Atomic Energy Commission inspectors who supervised construction, some of them very close to the commission’s chairman Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, and demanded explanations for letting the omission stand.
The act of sabotage showed Iran how simple it would for aggressors to bring the Fordo plant to a total standstill simply by cutting its 40- kilometer power link to the Qom power station. An electricity cut would additionally disarm the facility’s security system, including the radar and air defense batteries guarding it.
According to debkafile’s sources, the Iranians have kept the three arrests under tight blackout in the hope of rounding up the rest of the team suspected of responsibility for the explosion and, above all, identifying the hand behind it. Their main suspect is Israel.
Our Iranian sources have discovered that the three detainees hail from Tehran, Tabriz in the north and Zahedan in the southeast. They are all in their twenties. According to our intelligence sources, the Iranian inquiry so far points to their having trained at a secret military base in Azerbaijan 25 kilometers south of Baku and infiltrated Iran shortly before the operation.
It was to this attack Abbasi referred Monday, Sept. 17, when he stood up at the nuclear watchdog’s annual meeting in Vienna and flatly accused the IAEA of being infiltrated by “terrorists and saboteurs” and of foreknowledge of the explosion.
Already, Iranian officials have turned the incident into a propaganda tool.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi used his first ever Egyptian television interview Tuesday, Sept. 18 to comment: “Israel can’t carry out an attack against such a big country [like Iran], and it knows that.” He called Israeli warnings about a possible strike “empty.”
Salehi also said (apropos of nothing) that his “country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan, would not assist Israel in carrying out any attack on Iran.”
debkafile: The Iranian foreign minister’s show of contempt for Israel was meant to dull the huge impact the explosion at the Fordo plant has had inside Iran and across the Arab world, whereas his remark on Azerbaijan was a signal to Baku that it is under heavy Iranian suspicion of complicity in the blowing up of the power line.