No damage was done as part of the air defense test, according to Iranian media.
Tehran, Iran A loud explosion was heard near Iran’s main nuclear facilities in Natanz, which had previously been targeted by sabotage attacks, but state media said it was part of a controlled test.
A large explosion and flash of light in the air were reported on Saturday around 20:15 local time (16:45 GMT) in Badroud, 20 km (12 miles) from where the enrichment facilities are located.
Early reports suggested that a surface-to-air missile defense system was targeting a hostile object, most likely a drone.
Nournews, an outpost near Iran’s security forces, confirmed an anti-aircraft missile was fired and exploded in the air, but said it was part of a rapid response test.
State television later confirmed this version, saying the test was part of exercises that are regularly conducted under the supervision of local air defense authorities. No damage was allegedly done to the local area as part of the test.
The incident took place when Israel repeatedly threatened Iran with military action and promised not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
Iran has maintained that it will never seek a nuclear arsenal, unlike Israel which has dozens of nuclear weapons. It also blamed two attacks on the Natanz facility since last year, and another earlier this year, at a centrifuge workshop in Karaj, on Israel, accusing it of “nuclear terrorism”.
Expose the gorge
Senior Iranian military officials regularly respond to Israeli threats by saying Israel does not dare attack because it will face a devastating response.
Top Israeli officials renewed their threats against Iran last week when Iran and the world powers that are part of its 2015 nuclear deal reunited in Vienna in an effort to restore the agreement that the United States unilaterally abandoned in 2018.
The seventh round of talks, which ended Friday, was not promising, further exposing the gap between Iran and the West. An eighth round is expected next week.
Israel was the most vocal opponent of the deal, urging former US President Donald Trump when he rejected it and imposed severe sanctions on Tehran.
Iran’s nuclear program has progressed significantly since the US withdrawal from the agreement, and the country now enriches uranium to 60 percent, well above the 3.67 percent limit set in the agreement.
While the Vienna talks were going on, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that Iran had taken another step to advance its nuclear efforts, and now uranium to a 20 percent purity at the Fordow underground facility enrich.