Blasts at natural gas pipeline in Iran ‘acts of sabotage’

14 February 2024, 10:34

Pipeline blast
Iran Mideast Tensions. Picture: PA

The pipeline runs from Iran’s western Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province to cities on the Caspian Sea.

Explosions have struck a natural gas pipeline in Iran, with an official blaming the blasts on “sabotage and terrorist action” as tensions remain high in the Middle East amid Israel’s war on Hamas.

The pipeline runs from Iran’s western Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province up north to cities on the Caspian Sea. The roughly 790-mile structure begins in Asaluyeh, a hub for Iran’s offshore South Pars gas field.

Saeed Aghli, the manager of Iran’s gas network control centre, told Iranian state television that “sabotage and terrorist action” caused explosions along several areas of the line.

There are no known insurgent groups operating in that province, home to the Bakhtiari, a branch of Iran’s Lur ethnic group.

In the past, Arab separatists in south-western Iran have claimed attacks against oil pipelines. However, attacks against such infrastructure are rare elsewhere.

Pipe explodes
Flames leap into the air after a natural gas pipeline explodes outside the city of Boroujen in the western Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province (Fars News Agency via AP)

Iran has faced low-level separatist unrest from Kurds in its north-west, the Baluch in its east and Arabs in its south-west since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

However, tensions have risen in recent years as Iran faces an economy hobbled by international sanctions over its nuclear programme.

The country has faced years of mass demonstrations, most recently in 2022 over the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest, allegedly over how she wore her mandatory headscarf.

Meanwhile, Israel has carried out attacks in Iran, but have predominantly targeted its nuclear programme.

On Tuesday, the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warned that Iran is “not entirely transparent” regarding its atomic programme, particularly after an official who once led Tehran’s programme announced the Islamic Republic has all the pieces for a weapon “in our hands”.

Tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme comes as militias it arms in the region – Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels – have launched attacks targeting Israel during the war in Gaza.

The Houthis continue to attack commercial shipping in the region, sparking repeated air strikes from the US and UK.

By Press Association

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