Iranian base go *BOOM!* — Updated

**Posted by Phineas

Nope. We haven’t starting bombing Iran, nor have the Israelis… yet. But something bad happened at a Revolutionary Guard base outside Tehran:

A massive explosion at a military arms depot near the Iranian capital Tehran on Saturday killed 17 Revolutionary Guards and wounded 15, a spokesman for the elite fighting force told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Officials said the blast was an accident which happened as troops were moving munitions at a base in Bidganeh, near the town of Shahriar, some 45 km (28 miles) west of Tehran.

The explosion shook homes and rattled windows for miles around, at a time of mounting tension with Israel over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Today at 13:30, (0900 GMT), an explosion happened in one of the Revolutionary Guards’ bases while a consignment of explosive devices was being moved out from the arsenal, besides that some munitions in the arsenal exploded which created a terrifying sound,” Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif told state TV.

Darn. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of terrorist-sponsors.

Iranian sources immediately denied this was an airstrike by Israel or the US, and I believe them. Munitions are dangerous things and accidents do happen (1). But, this isn’t the first incident at an Iranian government facility, and Michael Ledeen isn’t quite buying the explanation:

Just like the repeated failures of landing gear on their aircraft, and explosions on their trains. I was told in advance to watch for a “big bang,” and I do not believe it was an accident, any more than the fires and explosions in the pipelines are accidents, or the ongoing strikes are accidents. I think it’s part of the ongoing war against the regime waged by the opposition. You know, the one that doesn’t exist. The one that’s been crushed.

I lean toward Michael’s view: once is an accident, but there have been too many “accidents” to just brush them off as coincidences.

And this is one illustration why, if the US and Israel (and maybe Britain) attack Iran, it will have to be regarded as the fruit of failure on the part of US and other Western policymakers. Not because we didn’t try hard enough to talk to the mullahs — far from it. Every US administration since Carter has thought it could reach a “grand bargain” with Tehran, and each has been played for a fool. Obama and Hillary are only the latest.

No, an attack on Iran, as necessary as it may become, will represent a failure because there has been another route to attack the regime and bring about its downfall without invasion: by supporting the peoples of Iran, the vast majority of whom hate the mullahocracy. We did it in Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union by consistently and loudly backing democratic regime foes and giving them clandestine aid, and brought down the “Evil Empire” without firing a shot.

There’s no reason the same pressure couldn’t work against the Tehran government, which is brittle and frightened of its own people. And the Iranian people have shown their willingness to stand up and fight their own battles.

And this latest “work accident” may well be another example.

(1) I went through the explosion of an Air Force ammunition train in Roseville, CA, in 1973. That did millions in damage (as well as scaring the tar out of us) and was started by a boxcar brake that failed and caught fire.

UPDATE: Ryan Mauro’s says this explosion may indeed have been the result of an accident, one that happened while a nuclear warhead was being fitted to a missile. But the source is Israel’s Debka File, a source I’d advise taking with more than a few grains of salt.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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