Israeli Expert: Deadly Iran Base Blast not Sabotage

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- An Israeli defense expert said it was likely exploding ammunition that killed 17 Revolutionary Guards, including Brig.-Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, at a military base near Tehran early Saturday afternoon. Moghaddam designed advanced weaponry for the Islamic Republic's missile program.

The massive explosion -- felt as far away as Tehran -- set off fires that took hours to get under control. Fifteen others were reportedly injured by the blast. 

Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense program, said the Shahab missiles at the Bid Ganeh base "are like a bunch of metal [tubes]." The long-range Shahabs, manufactured and stored at the base, do not use solid fuel and therefore would not have caused the explosions, he said.

Rubin believes the blast was an accident, not sabotage as some speculated. One Western intelligence official told TIME that the Mossad, Israel's secret service, was behind the attack, saying it wouldn't be the last, Reuters reported.

"There are more bullets in the magazine," he said, according to the report.

Speaking with Army Radio Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "May there be more like it."

A Revolutionary Guard spokesman said "explosive devices" were responsible for the "terrifying noise" that accompanied the explosion, Iran's state-news agency, FARS, reported.

"Today at 1:30 p.m., an explosion occurred in one of the Revolutionary Guard bases while a consignment of explosive devices was being moved out from the arsenal," Ramezan Shaif told FARS.

Iranian officials insisted the blast had nothing to do with the country's nuclear program.

Also on Sunday, Iranian officials said a new computer virus, called Duqu, that penetrated certain computers was "under control."

"The cyber defense unit works day and night to combat cyber attacks and spy [computer] virus," the officials said.

The security software maker Symantec Corp. said the Duqu virus "appeared to be very similar to Stuxnet," the worm developed to incapacitate the uranium enrichment program at the Natanz nuclear plant.

"Parts of Duqu are nearly identical to Stuxnet, but with a completely different purpose," the Israeli daily Ha'aretz quoted Symantec. "Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack."

The Stuxnet worm invaded a certain bank of computers at the Bushehr plant but didn't take out the major systems, Iranian officials said earlier this year.

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