The story comes from The Telegraph.
Mystery over 'explosion' at Iran's Fordow nuclear site
A report published on Right-wing news website WND on Friday, quoting a defected Iranian intelligence officer, claimed that a massive blast had ripped through the nuclear facility, buried deep within the guts of a large mountain.
The alleged blast was said to have erupted at 11.30am last Monday – on the eve of the Israeli election – partially destroyed the nuclear site and trapped 240 people underground. Tehran held Israel responsible, the report said.
More than a week later, the report is yet to be verified by a single independent source. If true, it would be the most significant attack on Iranian nuclear capabilities to date and could spark a fierce reaction from the Islamic State.
And yet on Sunday evening, Shamseddin Barbroudi, deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, assured Iranian reporters there had been no explosion at the nuclear facility whatsoever.
Earlier the same day, Avi Dichter, Israel's home defence minister, had been unable to confirm the unsubstantiated reports but nonetheless, welcomed them. "Any explosion in Iran that doesn't hurt people but hurts its assets is welcome," he said.
Speaking privately, officials in Israel's foreign ministry – known to have an extensive surveillance network monitoring Iran's key nuclear sites – claimed they had no reliable intelligence of an explosion at Fordow.
One theory put forward by Shlomo Aronson, an expert in Israeli foreign security policy at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, is that Tehran had deliberately leaked false reports about a blast to prevent international inspectors from entering the site.
"They [Tehran] are more than capable of inventing such a story – although if it's true, a damaged Fordow would definitely benefit Israel," Mr Aronson conceded.
"Israel would do anything within its power to stop the Iranian nuclear programme. This includes tactics that fall just short of, or substitute, a direct attack, such as the cyber war that has been raging for the past few years or acts of sabotage on Iran's nuclear facilities."
Buried 300 feet underground, the nuclear fortress at Fordow is immune to air strikes or bunker bombs. It is thought to contain more than 2,700 centrifuges enriching uranium to more than 20 per cent. But unlike Natanz, which has more than 10,000 centrifuges, it is not a nuclear reactor and therefore not as valuable to the Iranian nuclear programme.
Tehran has repeatedly blamed Israel for a string of explosive disasters that have hit Iranian nuclear targets, including the death of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, one of Natanz's top nuclear scientists, killed when his car exploded in January last year.
Whilst pleading ignorance of last Monday's alleged blast, a senior Israeli official conceded that penetrating a fortified facility such as Fordow would be neither impossible nor without precedent for Israeli's intelligence services.
"Anything man-made, we can penetrate," one Israeli official told The Daily Telegraph.