JERUSALEM — Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday hailed the deadly munitions blast at a base of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and hoped for more such incidents.

"I don't know the extent of the explosion," he told military radio, asked about the incident. "But it would be desirable if they multiply."

Iran said earlier that a senior general who pioneered an artillery and missile unit was among the 17 Guards reported killed in Saturday's blast at Bid Ganeh, near the town of Malard on the western outskirts of Tehran.

Guards spokesman commander Ramezan Sharif said the blast, which Iran said was an accident, occurred as "ammunition was taken out of the depot and was being moved outside toward the appropriate site."

Set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend Iran, the Guards are in charge of the Islamic republic's missile programme, including Shahab-3 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) capable of hitting Israel.

Saturday's blast came amid international condemnation of Iran since the release of a new UN nuclear watchdog report accusing Tehran of working towards the development of nuclear warheads to fit inside its medium-range missiles.

Israeli officials have in past weeks warned Iran of the possibility of military strikes against its nuclear sites.

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Photo from former Representative Anthony Weiner's House website [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.