Iran has insisted the blast at a military base on Saturday, which rattled window in parts of the capital, Tehran, 30 miles away, was an accident and denied speculation of possible sabotage by Israel or the United States.
“This recent incident and blast has no link to Israel or America but the outcome of the research, in which the incident happened as a consequence, could be a strong smack to the mouth of Israel and its occupying regime,” armed forces chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi said.
Iranian officials had previously said the accident happened while munitions were being moved at the base, without linking it directly to weapons research.
Brigadier General Hassan Moqaddam, hailed as the founder of Iran’s missile programme, was the most senior casualty.
Iran already has missiles, the Shahab-3, first tested in 1998, which it claims could reach Israel, which has threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites if diplomacy and pressure fail to stop it getting the bomb.
Asked on Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday about the blast, defence minister Ehud Barak said: “May there be more like it.”