Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has attended the joint funerals of 17 soldiers killed in an explosion at a Revolutionary Guards arms depot, that the authorities say was an accident.
Among the dead was the man officially described as the architect of Iran’s missile programme, General Hassan Moqaddam.
The huge blast to the west of Tehran was felt in the capital. The authorities have denied suggestions that it was sabotage. The explosion has been linked to speculation that Israel has been considering strikes against Iran’s nuclear programme.
EU foreign ministers are poised to back more sanctions against Tehran, a week after a UN watchdog added to fears that Iran is working on a nuclear bomb.
“The IAEA report has confirmed what we’ve always said about Iran: that there is a nuclear weapons programme being conducted there, that the activities of Iran cannot be reconciled with a purely peaceful development of nuclear energy,” said the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague. “We are not calling for or advocating military action. At the same time we say all options should remain on the table.”
Iran has test-fired missiles, some of which are said to have a range of up to 2,000 kilometres.
The authorities say the military personnel killed in Saturday’s explosion were transporting munitions.
They have not said why the missile supremo was at the site at the time of the blast.