Infrastructure Explosions in Iran Don’t Exactly Inspire Confidence in Its Nuclear Program

At the Washington Post, Thomas Erdbrink reports:

A massive blast at a missile base operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps nearly two weeks ago was the latest in a series of mysterious … explosions at natural gas transport facilities, oil refineries and military bases [which] have caused dozens of deaths. … At least 17 gas pipeline explosions have been reported since last year [and] nearly a dozen major explosions have damaged refineries since 2010. … Despite the official denial of foreign involvement in the latest blast, suspicions have been raised in Iran by [the] fivefold increase in explosions at refineries and gas pipelines.

Official denial? You’d think it would be in Tehran’s interest to accuse Israel or the United States of sabotage. But, writes Erdbrink, “Iranian leaders … do not want to appear vulnerable at a time when Israeli leaders have been debating military intervention against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.” Still, “Explaining the increased number of industrial incidents is proving to be a predicament. … Officials have blamed industrial accidents for most the blasts, saying they were caused by such deficiencies as ‘bad welding’ or ‘substandard manufacturing.’”

Nor would one think Tehran wants its infrastructure viewed as subject to such deficiencies on the heels of opening its first nuclear power plant in Bushehr and while it’s the object of suspicions about a nuclear-weapons program. The West will think that if it can’t even maintain its infrastructure properly, how will it run a nuclear-energy industry — never mind the nuclear weapons the West alleges Iran is developing — without a Chernobyl-like accident?

Apparently the West has some cause for concern in that regard. Erdbrink again.

One oil expert said that increasingly strict sanctions prohibiting Western companies from maintaining key installations in Iran could also be to blame. “Now, many projects are finished by Iranian companies without observing safety standards,” said Reza Zandi, an Iranian journalist who specializes in energy issues.

Meanwhile, as regards suspicions about sabotage, Erdbrink writes, “Lawmaker Parviz Sorouri told the semiofficial Mehr News Agency that the blasts were the work of “terrorists” and were “organized by the enemies of the Islamic Republic.”

If that’s the case, as with the Stuxnet attacks, Tehran may be unable to retaliate directly because of the combined might of the United States and Israel. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that Tehran is using any sabotage that might be occurring to fuel — psychically — a nuclear-weapons program. But such sabotage no doubt increases Tehran’s resolve to inflict harm on the West in whatever form it can such as supplying Hezbollah with more and better missiles and factions in Iraq with arms.