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Iran to Citizens: Flee Isfahan

Iranian officials tell citizens to vacate city located near nuke site

Iranian workers at the Uranium Conversion Facility near Isfahan, Iran / AP
BY:  Adam Kredo
January 2,
2013 12:26 pm

 Iranian officials have instructed residents of Isfahan to leave the city,
renewing concerns that a nearby nuclear site could be
leaking radioactive material.

 An edict issued Wednesday by Iranian authorities orders Isfahan’s
one-and-a-half million people to leave the city “because pollution has now reached
emergency levels,” the BBC reported.

 However, outside observers suspect that the evacuation order may corroborate
previous reports indicating that a uranium enrichment
facility near Isfahan had been leaking radioactive material.

 Tehran went to great lengths in December to deny these reports, telling state-run media outlets that “the rumors
about leaking and contamination at Isfahan’s [Uranium Conversion Facility] are
not true at all.”

 November reports indicated that a radioactive leak might have
poisoned several workers at the nuclear plant, which converts highly toxic
yellowcake uranium into material that could be used in the core of a nuclear

 The head of Iran’s emergency services agency said at the time that residents have no reason to
worry about possible contamination resulting from a possible leak.

 Stories about the potential leak soon disappeared from state-run news
websites, Trend reported in late November.

 Iranian officials denied that a leak has occurred and blamed Western media
outlets for creating “tumult” in the region.

 Wednesday’s evacuation order is now fueling concerns that Iranian officials
are trying to hide something, including further fallout from a possible
radioactive leak.

 “Pollution in Isfahan is a problem but in the past, Iranian authorities
respond by closing schools and the government to keep people at home and let the
pollution dissipate, not by evacuating people,” said Michael Rubin, a former
Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq who has written about Isfahan’s battle against

 “Mass evacuations suggest a far more serious problem,” Rubin explained.
“There are two possibilities here: There is a radiation leak and the regime is
lying or there is really bad pollution and no one believes the regime’s

 Rubin also pointed out that Iranian officials have a history of lying to both
Western officials and their own citizens.

 It remains unclear whether the technology has been properly inspected for
safety because Iran has denied Western officials access to many of its nuclear

 The nuclear site at Isfahan has been targeted for attack in the past.

 An unexplained explosion at the plant in 2011 is reported to have damaged the facility.

 The nuclear plant also sits on an active fault line. The city of Isfahan has
been destroyed at least six times from past
earthquakes, a point of concern among regional experts.

 “Given that Iran is on an earthquake zone and has lost tens of thousands of
people with regularity suggests that a devastating nuclear accident is only a
matter of time,” said Rubin.