NewsSpecial WireBomb blast against British interests in Iran raises questions

Bomb blast against British interests in Iran raises questions

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Iran Focus: London, Aug. 2 – A small bomb exploded outside the offices of British Airways, British Petroleum and DaimlerChrysler in the Iranian capital Tehran on Tuesday, but there were no casualties, officials of the State Security Forces, Iran’s law enforcement agency, announced. Iran Focus

London, Aug. 2 – A small bomb exploded outside the offices of British Airways, British Petroleum and DaimlerChrysler in the Iranian capital Tehran on Tuesday, but there were no casualties, officials of the State Security Forces, Iran’s law enforcement agency, announced.

Quoting the officials, the state-owned news agency ILNA said the blast was caused by a bomb hidden in a rubbish bin in the hallway of Saei Tower, a large tower block in Vali-Asr Avenue. The tenth floor of the building where the blast occurred is shared by the three international companies.

Witnesses said the device, which exploded at 9.15 a.m., smashed windows and damaged parts of the building.

“We were lucky in that none of our staff in the office was injured”, Mojtaba Soha, the director of British Airways office in Tehran said.

The state-owned website Baztab, which is close to senior Revolutionary Guards commanders, quoted unnamed BA directors as saying that the British government had “imposed a ban on giving out any comment or information on this subject”.

The blast against British interests in the midst of virulent daily attacks by Iran’s state-run media against London’s toughening stance on Iran’s nuclear program was seen by some analysts as a warning shot from the theocratic state’s ruling hard-line camp.

“At first sight, this has all the hallmarks of being the work of the hard-liners who rule the country”, said Paul Williams, a Middle East political analyst who recently visited Iran, in a telephone interview from Dubai. “There is a lot of anger in the hard-line camp at what they see as London pushing its EU partners towards a tougher line on Iran”.

In an interview that appeared on several Persian-language websites on Monday, British ambassador to Tehran, Sir Richard Dalton, had a tough message for the Iranian leadership.

“For many years, Iran was not revealing any information about its nuclear activities, while implementing its nuclear program”, the ambassador said. “Europe must be assured that Iran will not use its nuclear activities for military purposes”.

Nasser Taba, a London-based Iranian journalist who specialised in Iran’s secret services, said the way the blast was set up raises serious questions about who was behind it.

“A small bomb in a rubbish bin outside British interests in an area of Tehran that is under very tight security control is likely to be the work of one of the secret services of Iran, either the Intelligence Ministry or the intelligence directorate of the Revolutionary Guards”, Taba said.

“There is at least one case of a similar blast caused by a bomb in a rubbish bin that later turned out to be the work of ‘rogue’ officers of the Intelligence Ministry”, he added.

Nader Parham, a Paris-based writer on Iranian affairs, said the election of ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised tensions between London and Tehran.

“After the London bombings on July 7, Iran’s senior officials publicly claimed that the Blair government was behind the attacks and this led to a formal protest from the Foreign Office”, Parham said. “The Iranian leadership feels it can pressure London into a more conciliatory position. I think that’s why you are seeing more attacks on British troops in southern Iraq, more anti-British invective in Iran’s media, and now this blast”.

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