By Monday morning, a few respectable media organizations seemed to be taking the news more seriously than when it first emerged, but carried little information or details that could verify the report.
The Times of London reported that an “Israeli official” had acknowledged that there had been an incident at Fordow and that the Israeli government was still investigating the situation. The German daily Die Welt confirmed the report from a “source in the Iranian intelligence service.” The U.S. media, meanwhile, quoted an administration source who doubted the credibility of the report, and the deputy chairman of Iran’s nuclear energy commission on Sunday night also denied the report.
The identity of the report’s author leads to the disbelief: Reza Kahlili, an Iranian exile with an interesting past who is well known to many reporters covering intelligence and Iranian affairs.
Beyond his questionable credibility, there is no supporting evidence. If a large explosion did occur at Fordow a week ago, why have no satellite photos appeared of dozens of vehicles on the site involved in rescue operations? And if there are 240 workers trapped underground, how come no worried relatives have expressed concern on one of the social networks? Iran may have a repressive regime, but tens of millions of citizens are connected to the Internet and are experts at evading the regime’s attempts to monitor and filter their communications. Something would have come out by now.
In a phone-interview with Haaretz (Kahlili used a voice-distorting device), he insisted that his information was accurate and based on his “several sources in the Revolutionary Guards, government offices and [Supreme Leader] Khamenei’s office.” He admitted to frustration over the mainstream media’s lack of reaction to this report and said: “I have revealed many facts about the regime and its secret work and months later major news networks picked it up.”
Among his recent revelations that have not attracted attention are two new enrichment installations that he claims are being operated with Russian cooperation and use laser technology. He volunteered another scoop: following the Fordow explosion, he claims, meetings were held between Revolutionary Guard commanders and Hassan Nasrallah, in which Hezbollah was ordered to evacuate a number of villages in south Lebanon, to prepare for an attack on Israel.
He is totally convinced that in the coming weeks, additional information will emerge and the regime’s retaliation will confirm his version.