Iran Holds Unannounced Air Defense Drill Over Natanz Amid Nuclear Talks

After local residents report a large blast around the central town of Natanz, which houses nuclear installations, state TV says it was a test

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The Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 250 km (155 miles) south of Tehran.
The Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 250 km (155 miles) south of Tehran.Credit: Reuters

Iranian air defenses fired a missile as part of an exercise on Saturday over the central town of Natanz, which houses nuclear installations, state TV reported, after local residents reported hearing a large blast.

The TV said air defense units fired the missile to test a rapid reaction force over Natanz.

"Such exercises are carried out in a completely secure environment ... and there is no cause for concern," Army spokesman Shahin Taqikhani told the TV.

Iranian news agencies earlier reported a large explosion in the sky above Natanz, but said there was no official explanation of the incident.

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted its reporter in nearby Badroud as saying a short blast was heard which was accompanied by an intense light in the sky.

The Islamic Republic says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Israel opposed the original 2015 Iran nuclear accord with world powers, which aimed to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions against Tehran, as too limited in scope and duration.

Israeli leaders have long threatened military action against Iran if they deem diplomacy a dead end for denying it nuclear weaponry.

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