The brother of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander killed in an explosion at an ammunition depot west of Tehran last week has been quoted by a government daily as saying that the dead man was testing an intercontinental missile.
Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other IRGC members Nov. 12 at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Tehran. The IRGC said the accidental explosion occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions.
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But Mohammad Tehrani Moghaddam was quoted by the government-run "Iran" newspaper as saying that his brother was killed when the weapon exploded during testing. Iran said it has ruled out sabotage.
Moghaddam was one of the "cornerstones" of the artillery and missile units at the IRGC during the Iran-Iraq war.
The officer reportedly served as a researcher at a Tehran university and headed the "Jihad Self-Reliance" unit, mostly tasked with developing arms and missiles.
Senior Guards member Mustafa Izadi published an article saying Moghaddam's research helped the terror groups fight Israel.
Mohammad Tehrani Moghaddam later denied ever saying that his brother died wile testing a ballstic missile, telling the semi-official Fars news agency that "We didn't know what my brother was doing" while he died. He added that he asked the offending newspaper to print a retraction, stressing that "I have never said these things. I have no connection to the state's missile program."
Set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend Iran against internal and external threats, the IRGC is in charge of the Islamic republic’s missile program, including Shahab-3 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) capable of hitting Israel.
Despite four sets of UN Security Council sanctions, Iran has refused to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
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