Iran condemns ‘terrorist’ attack on gas pipelines

The explosions took place on the south-north gas pipeline, reportedly cutting off gas supply to industries and offices.

A general view of phases 2-3 of the South Pars gas field
A general view of phases 2-3 of the South Pars gas field in Assaluyeh seaport in the Gulf about 1400km (870 miles) south of Tehran on May 27, 2006 [File: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters]

An Iranian government official has blamed “terrorism and sabotage” for twin explosions on gas pipelines overnight.

While there are few details about the blasts, one occurred on the mainline gas route running from Iran’s central Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province north to major gas fields in the Caspian Sea, state media reported on Wednesday. The other explosion was reported in the southern province of Fars.

The blasts come amid raised tension as Israel’s war in Gaza threatens to spill over across the region. While Tehran has not specified who it suspects, it has linked other such incidents to Israel over the years.

“This terrorist act of sabotage occurred at 1am (21:30 GMT) on Wednesday morning in the network of national gas transmission pipelines in two regions of the country,” oil minister Javad Owji told state TV.

Starting in Asaluyeh, a hub for Iran’s offshore South Pars gas field, the first pipeline runs 1,270 kilometres (790 miles) to the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province.

Authorities denied reports that the incident caused gas cuts to industries and offices.

“We hope the pipeline will be repaired and will become operational as soon as possible,” Saeed Aghili, the manager of Iran’s gas network control centre, told Iranian state television.

Usual suspect

In the past, Arab separatists in southwestern Iran have claimed attacks against oil pipelines. But attacks on such infrastructure are rare elsewhere.

However, in recent years, tensions have risen as Iran faces an economy hobbled by international sanctions over its nuclear programme. Tehran has also faced rare mass civil unrest, most recently in 2022, over the death of Mahsa Amini following her non-compliance with hijab rules.

But Iran has generally blamed agents of Israel for similar acts of alleged sabotage in the past.

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

The war on Gaza has worsened relations between the two countries. Iranian-linked groups, like Yemen’s Houthis and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have launched attacks on Israel and shipping in the Red Sea in what they say is intended as defence of Palestinians.

On Tuesday, the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warned that Iran is “not entirely transparent” regarding its atomic programme.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies