Big explosion reported in Tehran, Iran | Page 3 | World Defense

Big explosion reported in Tehran, Iran

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
11,133
Reactions
114 21,093 1,066
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
Fire breaks out at Iranian power plant, latest in series of incidents
July 4, 2020

(Reuters) - A fire broke out at a power station in southwestern Iran on Saturday, Iranian media reported, the latest in a string of fires and explosions, some of which have hit sensitive sites.

The blaze, which affected a transformer in the power station in the city of Ahvaz, was put out by fire fighters and electricity was restored after partial outages, Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi, a spokesman for state-run power company TAVANIR, told the semi-official news agency Tasnim.

There have been several other incidents at facilities across the country recently.

A chlorine gas leak occurred at a unit of the Karoon petrochemicals plant near the port of Bandar Imam Khomeini on the Gulf on Saturday, injuring dozens, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.

“In this incident, 70 members of the personnel who were near the unit suffered slight injuries (due to chlorine inhalation) and were taken to a hospital with the help of rescue workers,” the plant’s spokesman, Massoud Shabanlou, told ILNA, adding that all but two had been released.

On Thursday, a fire broke out at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility but officials said operations were not affected.

A former official suggested the incident could have been an attempt to sabotage work at the plant, which has been involved in activities that breach an international nuclear deal.

On Tuesday, 19 people were killed in an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the capital Tehran, which an official said was caused by a gas leak.

On June 26, an explosion occurred east of Tehran near the Parchin military and weapons development base that the authorities said was caused by a leak in a gas storage facility in an area outside the base.
 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
11,133
Reactions
114 21,093 1,066
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
The pro-IRGC media arm already responded to the incident and dealt a blow to Israel that Israel won't forget, no need to worry anymore:

∫øø§|0||0||0|
 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
11,133
Reactions
114 21,093 1,066
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
How did it all start:

Major attack on Israel’s water systems thwarted: Cyber chief
The Associated Press, Jerusalem
Thursday 28 May 2020

1593905293800.png

Yigal Unna speaks at the Reuters Cyber Security Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel October 24, 2017. (Reuters)

Israel’s national cyber chief Thursday officially acknowledged the country had thwarted a major cyber attack last month against its water systems, an assault widely attributed to arch-enemy Iran, calling it a “synchronized and organized attack” aimed at disrupting key national infrastructure.

Yigal Unna did not mention Iran directly, nor did he comment on the alleged Israeli retaliation two weeks later said to have shut down a key Iranian port, but he said recent developments have ushered in a new era of covert warfare, ominously warning that “cyber winter is coming.”

“Rapid is not something that describes enough how fast and how crazy and hectic things are moving forward in cyberspace and I think we will remember this last month and May 2020 as a changing point in the history of modern cyber warfare,” he said in a video address to CybertechLive Asia, a digital international cyber conference.

“If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot we would now be facing, in the middle of the corona crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that,” he added.

Israel and Iran are bitter foes who have engaged in years of covert battles that have included high-tech hacking and cyberattacks. Most famously, US and Israeli intelligence agencies are suspected of unleashing a computer worm called Stuxnet years ago in an attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

But Unna said the attempted hacking into Israel’s water systems marked the first time in modern history that “we can see something like this aiming to cause damage to real life and not to IT or data.”

Had Israel’s National Cyber Directorate not detected the attack in real time, he said chlorine or other chemicals could have been mixed into the water source in the wrong proportions and resulted in a “harmful and disastrous” outcome.

His office released a brief statement after the attempt, acknowledged it had been thwarted and no damage had been caused. But Unna’s comments marked the first official detailed account of what happened.
“It is a part of some attack over Israel and over the national security of Israel and not for financial benefit,” he said. “The attack happened but the damage was prevented and that is our goal and our mission. And now we are in the middle of preparing for the next phase to come because it will come eventually.”
 

TsAr

THINK TANK
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
911
Reactions
7 2,522 57
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
Cyber Strike By Foreign Force Caused Iran Explosion: Israeli Experts

Iranian officials confirmed damage to a building built near the Natanz nuclear power plant today, saying an "accident" occurred. Israel has denied any connection to the huge explosion in the secret facility.

TEL AVIV: A mysterious attack using a “kinetic cyber” weapon has caused extensive damage to one of Iran’s most important nuclear facilities, experts here say.

In recent weeks, Israel has dramatically intensified its efforts to prove to the world that Iran has not stopped its race to a nuclear bomb. This effort, sources here say, may explain a series of “incidents” in Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in recent weeks and especially the huge blast that has destroyed big parts of a secret facility in Parchin associated with this country’s nuclear program.

Satellite images show the big blast at Parchin Friday occurred at a secret site that was built by the Iranians as part of their nuclear program.

Iranian officials first claimed that the huge blast was caused by a gas leak in the “public area” of the Parchin military base, where Iran had in the past been suspected of conducting high-explosive tests for nuclear warheads.

The gas storage area is part of the Khojir missile facility. The explosion caused heavy damage to the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets, according to one analyst cited by the news agency. Large industrial buildings at the site visible from satellite photographs also suggest missile assembly being conducted there.

In addition, Iranian officials confirmed damage to a building built near the Natanz nuclear power plant today, saying that an “accident” occurred. The Iranians say the crucial centrifuge facility, needed for Iran to make nuclear weapons, was not damaged.

Israel has denied any connection to the huge explosion in the secret facility.

However, multiple sources here say the explosion could have been caused by a “kinetic cyber” attack that one source says was performed by a “major force.”

A cyber expert here who talked with BD on condition of anonymity said cyber could have been used in many ways: “For instance, shutting down all the security cameras on a targeted site so security personnel are not aware that someone is doing something.”

Israeli experts say that the Iranian nuclear program has been accelerated because Teheran is worried that a continued arms embargo will make it very hard to obtain systems and materials that are needed for getting to a nuclear bomb.

Last year, the US Defense Intelligence Agency said Iran has the largest underground facility program in the Middle East, which “supports most facets of Tehran’s ballistic missile capabilities, including the operational force and the missile development and production program.” Iran has said that the cause of the explosion, which sent a huge fireball over Tehran and charred wide areas of scrubland, is under investigation.

The last major blast at a missile base near Tehran killed the Revolutionary Guard’s missile program chief, Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam. It was initially described by Iranian officials as an accident, although Israel was suspected.

The first major cyber attack against the Iranian nuclear program was made in 2010 by Israel and the US using what has become known as Stuxnet.

Martin Ivezic, a cyber expert here, writes in a research paper that an early version appears to have been deployed in 2007, but it didn’t reach its target. Perhaps that version’s goal was merely to gather intelligence. Its sophisticated platform was readily adaptable to espionage purposes and several related pieces of malware were primarily designed for that purpose.

According to Ivezic, the intelligence that its developers eventually obtained about Iranian operations enabled them to get Stuxnet inside Iran’s air-gapped (not connected to the internet) Natanz facility in 2009. “They did this by infecting five Iranian companies that installed equipment in Natanz. When technicians at these companies connected their laptops to Natanz equipment, they unwittingly caused Stuxnet to download and spread throughout the facility. Through this indirect connection, Stuxnet’s developers were able to upload and command the malware through 2010, even though they did not have a direct connection with it.

Stuxnet is considered the largest and most expensive malware development effort in history, a project too big for anyone but a nation-state to produce. It was also far too precisely targeted to damage anything other than equipment used only in Iranian uranium enrichment facilities.

The attack damaged centrifuge rotors through two different routines – The first involved dramatically, but briefly, speeding centrifuges above their maximum safe speed, then briefly slowing them dramatically below their minimum safe speed. The malware would then wait weeks before repeating the cycle, to reduce the chances of detection. The second, more complex routine involved over-pressurizing centrifuges to increase rotor stress over time.

The two states appear to be increasingly relying on cyber weapons. Iran, according to a report in London’s Financial Times, tried to increase chlorine levels in water flowing to residential areas in Israel during an April cyberattack.

The head of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate said after the attack was avoided that it could have resulted in injecting high doses of chlorine or other chemicals into the water supply. Also, there was a chance that the attack would have triggered a fail-safe, shutting down the pumps and leaving thousands without water during the recent deadly heatwave in Israel.

An unnamed Israeli official told the Financial Times that the attack created “an unpredictable risk scenario” by starting a tit-for-tat wave of attacks on civilian infrastructure, something both countries had so far avoided.
 

Falcon29

THINK TANK
Joined
Nov 29, 2014
Messages
2,176
Reactions
1,042 14
Country
Palestinian Territory, Occupied
Location
USA
How did it all start:

Major attack on Israel’s water systems thwarted: Cyber chief
The Associated Press, Jerusalem
Thursday 28 May 2020

View attachment 14528
Yigal Unna speaks at the Reuters Cyber Security Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel October 24, 2017. (Reuters)

Israel’s national cyber chief Thursday officially acknowledged the country had thwarted a major cyber attack last month against its water systems, an assault widely attributed to arch-enemy Iran, calling it a “synchronized and organized attack” aimed at disrupting key national infrastructure.

Yigal Unna did not mention Iran directly, nor did he comment on the alleged Israeli retaliation two weeks later said to have shut down a key Iranian port, but he said recent developments have ushered in a new era of covert warfare, ominously warning that “cyber winter is coming.”

“Rapid is not something that describes enough how fast and how crazy and hectic things are moving forward in cyberspace and I think we will remember this last month and May 2020 as a changing point in the history of modern cyber warfare,” he said in a video address to CybertechLive Asia, a digital international cyber conference.

“If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot we would now be facing, in the middle of the corona crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that,” he added.

Israel and Iran are bitter foes who have engaged in years of covert battles that have included high-tech hacking and cyberattacks. Most famously, US and Israeli intelligence agencies are suspected of unleashing a computer worm called Stuxnet years ago in an attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

But Unna said the attempted hacking into Israel’s water systems marked the first time in modern history that “we can see something like this aiming to cause damage to real life and not to IT or data.”

Had Israel’s National Cyber Directorate not detected the attack in real time, he said chlorine or other chemicals could have been mixed into the water source in the wrong proportions and resulted in a “harmful and disastrous” outcome.

His office released a brief statement after the attempt, acknowledged it had been thwarted and no damage had been caused. But Unna’s comments marked the first official detailed account of what happened.
“It is a part of some attack over Israel and over the national security of Israel and not for financial benefit,” he said. “The attack happened but the damage was prevented and that is our goal and our mission. And now we are in the middle of preparing for the next phase to come because it will come eventually.”
I think it preceded this, an Israeli cyber attack hit an Iranian oil facility or something like that and Iranian responded with this.
 

mtime7

SENIOR MEMBER
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
1,118
Reactions
1 638 13
Country
USA
Location
USA

Report: Israeli cyberattack caused Iran nuclear site fire, F35s hit missile base
Kuwaiti newspaper cites unnamed senior source as saying Jerusalem behind recent incidents in Iran, following an alleged attempt by Tehran to hack Israel’s water infrastructure

srael was responsible for two blasts at Iranian facilities — one related to uranium enrichment, the other for missile production — over the past week, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Friday.
The Al-Jareeda daily cited an unnamed senior source as saying that an Israeli cyberattack caused a fire and explosion at the largely underground Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in the predawn hours of Thursday morning.

According to the source, this was expected to set back Iran’s nuclear enrichment program by approximately two months.
The newspaper also reported that last Friday Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets bombed a site located in the area of Parchin, which is believed to house a missile production complex — an area of particular concern for the Jewish state, in light of the large number and increasing sophistication of missiles and rockets in the arsenals of Iranian proxies, notably Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Neither of these claims were confirmed by Israeli officials, who have been mum on the reports.
The reported Israeli strikes followed an alleged Iranian attempt to hack into Israel’s water infrastructure in April, an effort that was thwarted by Israeli cyber defenses, but if successful could have introduced dangerous levels of chlorine into the Israeli water supply and otherwise seriously interrupted the flow of water throughout the country.
Ultimately, the alleged Iranian cyberattack caused minimal issues, according to Israeli officials.
The alleged Israeli attacks also came amid an ongoing campaign of so-called maximum pressure by the United States in the form of crushing sanctions on Iran and Iranian officials.
Early Thursday morning, a fire and then an explosion were reported at an above-ground building in the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, which US-based analysts said was likely a new centrifuge production plant. Natanz, located some 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 7.6 meters (25 feet) of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.
Photographs of the site showed significant damage to one above-ground building, which was covered in scorch marks and had its roof apparently destroyed.
The BBC’s Persian service said it received an email from a group identifying itself as the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” claiming responsibility for the attack. The email was received prior to the announcement of the Natanz fire.
The group, which claimed to be dissident members of Iran’s security forces, had never been heard of before by Iran experts and the claim could not be immediately authenticated by The Associated Press.
The site of the fire corresponds to a newly opened centrifuge production facility, said Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. He said he relied on satellite images and a state TV program on the facility to locate the building, which sits in Natanz’s northwest corner.
David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security similarly said the fire struck the production facility. His institute previously wrote a report on the new plant, identifying it from satellite pictures while it was under construction and later built.
Iranian nuclear officials did not respond to a request for comment about the analysts’ comments.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran sought to downplay the fire, calling it an “incident” that only affected an under-construction “industrial shed,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. However, both Kamalvandi and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi rushed after the fire to Natanz, which has been targeted in sabotage campaigns in the past.

Last Friday, a large blast was felt in Tehran, apparently caused by an explosion at the Parchin military complex, which defense analysts believe hold an underground tunnel system and missile production facilities.
According to the al-Jareeda report on Friday, that explosion was caused by missiles dropped by a number of Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets.
The newspaper reported that the aircraft took off from southern Israel and carried out the bombing run without the need to refuel.
 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
11,133
Reactions
114 21,093 1,066
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
Iran confirms damaged nuclear site was centrifuge facility
July 6, 2020

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Sunday confirmed that a damaged building at the underground Natanz nuclear site was a new centrifuge assembly center, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iranian officials had previously sought to downplay the fire, which erupted early on Thursday, calling it only an “incident” that affected an “industrial shed.” However, a released photo and video of the site broadcast by Iranian state television showed a two-story brick building with scorch marks and its roof apparently destroyed.

A spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said Sunday that work had begun on the center in 2013 and it was inaugurated in 2018.

“More advanced centrifuge machines were intended to be built there,” he said, adding that the damage would “possibly cause a delay in development and production of advanced centrifuge machines in the medium term.”

He said that the fire had damaged “precision and measuring instruments,” and that the center had not been operating at full capacity due to restrictions imposed by Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Iran began experimenting with advanced centrifuge models in the wake of the U.S. unilaterally withdrawing from the deal two years ago.

Iran has long maintained its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

An online video and messages purportedly claiming responsibility for the fire were released Friday. The multiple, different claims by a self-described group called the “Cheetahs of the Homeland,” as well as the fact that Iran experts have never heard of the group before, raised questions about whether Natanz again had faced sabotage by a foreign nation, as it had during the Stuxnet computer virus outbreak believed to have been engineered by the U.S. and Israel.

The Natanz fire also came less than a week after an explosion in an area east of Tehran that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites.

Two U.S.-based analysts who spoke to The Associated Press on Friday, relying on released pictures and satellite images, identified the affected building as Natanz’s new Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center. A satellite image on Friday by Planet Labs Inc., annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, shows what appears to be damage done to half of the building.
Destroying a centrifuge assembly facility could greatly impact Iran’s ability to more-quickly enrich greater amounts of uranium, which would be a goal for either Israel or the U.S.

Natanz today hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. In its long underground halls, centrifuges rapidly spin uranium hexafluoride gas to enrich uranium. Currently, the IAEA says Iran enriches uranium to about 4.5% purity — above the terms of the nuclear deal but far below weapons-grade levels of 90%. Workers there also have conducted tests on advanced centrifuges, according to the IAEA.
 

Falcon29

THINK TANK
Joined
Nov 29, 2014
Messages
2,176
Reactions
1,042 14
Country
Palestinian Territory, Occupied
Location
USA
About the most recent explosion:

Iranian media says some oxygen tanks exploded, similar to incident with hospital. I personally do not believe their infrastructure is poor but you never know. One possibility is some underground missile sites are being sabotaged.

Lots of their production facilities and missile sites are underground to protect from aerial attacks.
 

Khafee

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
11,133
Reactions
114 21,093 1,066
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
About the most recent explosion:

Iranian media says some oxygen tanks exploded, similar to incident with hospital. I personally do not believe their infrastructure is poor but you never know. One possibility is some underground missile sites are being sabotaged.

Lots of their production facilities and missile sites are underground to protect from aerial attacks.
1594173307500.png
 

Counter-Errorist

THINK TANK
Joined
Oct 1, 2019
Messages
981
Reactions
3 2,500 136
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
Incident At Iran Nuclear Site Discussed In Parliament Commission Meeting

Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission spokesman Abolfazl Amouei says his committee held a meeting Tuesday evening to investigate the recent "accident" at the uranium enrichment facility in the city of Natanz.

The meeting was attended by top officials, including the Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi, his deputies, senior members of the Army Air Defense Command, and high-ranking officers of the police force.

Based on the briefings at the session, Abolfaz Amouei disclosed, "significant conclusions" were reached.

Speaking to the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), Amouei briefly said, "The authorities delivered a report on their responsibilities related to the case, explaining the security aspects of the Natanz incident, and responded to questions raised by the members of the commission."

Officials in the Islamic Republic have so far referred to a fire that broke out on July 2 at the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz as an "accident" and first tried to play down the significance of damages.

Nevertheless, aerial images from the scene, which is said to be "Iran's centrifuge hub" show that much of the building was destroyed.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) later said the blast occurred at the workshop for a new generation of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site.

Still, without elaboration, Amouei told ISNA, "significant results concerning the Natanz incident were achieved, and further investigation into various aspects of the explosion at the nuclear facility is underway. He also promised that "after a thorough and technical investigation, the results will be made public through the relevant agencies."

Earlier, the Islamic Republic's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) had announced that the cause of the accident had been determined, but it would not immediately be revealed for "security considerations."

Nonetheless, some Iranian media outlets close to the SNSC have described the fire and explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility as an "deliberate attack."

Since senior officials of the Army Air Defense Command and law enforcement forces were present at Tuesday meeting in parliament, it is highly probable that planted bombs, or an airstrike caused the devastating fire and explosion at the Islamic Republic's centrifuge center.

The New York Times reporting has emphasized the possibility of a bomb and according to a source, Israel was involved.


Earlier, Channel 13 of Israeli television quoted experts as saying that the blast delays Iran's plans to boost uranium enrichment for two months, as the laboratory that developed high-speed centrifuges was demolished in the blast.

The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behrouz Kamalvandi, later admitted that "the incident may slow down the development and production of advanced centrifuges in the medium term."
 

Counter-Errorist

THINK TANK
Joined
Oct 1, 2019
Messages
981
Reactions
3 2,500 136
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
Long-Planned and Bigger Than Thought: Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Some officials say that a joint American-Israeli strategy is evolving — some might argue regressing — to a series of short-of-war clandestine strikes.

Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during a military parade in Tehran last year.

Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during a military parade in Tehran last year.Credit...Iranian Presidency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
David E. Sanger Eric Schmitt Ronen Bergman
By David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Ronen Bergman
  • July 10, 2020 | Updated 1:54 p.m. ET
As Iran’s center for advanced nuclear centrifuges lies in charred ruins after an explosion, apparently engineered by Israel, the long-simmering conflict between the United States and Tehran appears to be escalating into a potentially dangerous phase likely to play out during the American presidential election campaign.

New satellite photographs over the stricken facility at Natanz show far more extensive damage than was clear last week. Two intelligence officials, updated with the damage assessment for the Natanz site recently compiled by the United States and Israel, said it could take the Iranians up to two years to return their nuclear program to the place it was just before the explosion. An authoritative public study estimates it will be a year or more until Iran’s centrifuge production capacity recovers.

Another major explosion hit the country early Friday morning, lighting up the sky in a wealthy area of Tehran. It was still unexplained — but appeared to come from the direction of a missile base. If it proves to have been another attack, it will further shake the Iranians by demonstrating, yet again, that even their best-guarded nuclear and missile facilities have been infiltrated.

Although Iran has said little of substance about the explosions, Western officials anticipate some type of retaliation, perhaps against American or allied forces in Iraq, perhaps a renewal of cyberattacks. In the past, those have been directed against American financial institutions, a major Las Vegas casino and a dam in the New York suburbs or, more recently, the water supply system in Israel, which its government considers “critical infrastructure.”

Officials familiar with the explosion at Natanz compared its complexity to the sophisticated Stuxnet cyberattack on Iranian nuclear facilities a decade ago, which had been planned for more than a year. In the case of last week’s episode, the primary theory is that an explosive device was planted in the heavily-guarded facility, perhaps near a gas line. But some experts have also floated the possibility that a cyberattack was used to trigger the gas supply.

Some officials said that a joint American-Israeli strategy was evolving — some might argue regressing — to a series of short-of-war clandestine strikes, aimed at taking out the most prominent generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and setting back Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The closest the administration has come to describing its strategy of more aggressive pushback came in comments last month from Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran. “We have seen historically,’” he concluded, “that timidity and weakness invites more Iranian aggression.”

The next move may be a confrontation over four tankers, now making their way to Venezuela, which the United States has vowed will not be allowed to deliver their cargo of Iranian oil in violation of United States sanctions.

The emerging approach is risky, analysts warn, one that over the long term may largely serve to drive Iran’s nuclear program further underground, and thus make it harder to detect.

But in the short term, American and Israeli officials are betting that Iran will limit its retaliation, as it did after an American drone in January killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, one of Iran’s most important commanders.

While some American officials expressed fears that the killing of General Suleimani would lead Iran to initiate a war against the United States, the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, reassured them that the Iranians would settle on limited missile attacks against American targets in Iraq — which so far has turned out to be correct. Iran’s limited response could be an incentive for further operations against it.

In addition, some American and Israeli officials, and international security analysts, say that Iran may believe that President Trump will lose the November election and that his presumptive Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., will want to resurrect some form of the negotiated settlement that the Obama administration reached with Tehran five years ago next week.

A satellite image of the destruction at Natanz, as seen on July 4.

A satellite image of the destruction at Natanz, as seen on July 4.Credit...via Institute for Science and International Security

“Today, if you are Iran, why compromise with an administration which may only have a few months left?’’ asked Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But in the short term, he noted, the new offensive has put Iran under “extreme internal and external pressure,” as its oil exports continue to be squeezed and its efforts to revive the nuclear program, retribution for Mr. Trump’s decision in May 2018 to abandon the 2015 accord, falters amid sabotage.

“Think about it,’’ he said. “Geographically, Iran is greater in size than Germany, France and the United Kingdom combined. But they have never managed to pursue a clandestine nuclear program without getting caught, or protected their program from sabotage. Are there defectors or traitors inside the system?”

When the Mossad raided a warehouse in Tehran in January 2018, and emerged with tens of thousands of pages of nuclear-weapons planning documents dating back nearly two decades, it clearly had the help of insiders. The killing of General Suleimani, the mastermind of Iran’s actions in Iraq and attacks on Americans — which was also based on intelligence, much of it given by live agents — was perhaps Mr. Trump’s most aggressive military move as president.


The Natanz explosion occurred inside the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center, where the country was building its most advanced machines, designed to produce far more nuclear fuel, far faster, than the old machines used until Iran dismantled most of its facilities in the 2015 accord.

While research on those machines was permitted under the agreement, they could not be deployed for years — and Iran’s crash effort to mass produce them was an ambitious effort to show that it could respond to Mr. Trump’s rejection of the deal by speeding up.

A study by the Institute for Science and International Security published Wednesday concluded that while the explosion “does not eliminate Iran’s ability to deploy advanced centrifuges,” it was “a major setback” that would cost Iran years of development.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who always leaps at any opportunity to denounce the Iranian government, twice declined on Wednesday to discuss the issue at a news conference.

But it is hardly a secret inside the State Department that Mr. Pompeo, who served as Mr. Trump’s first C.I.A. director, developed a close relationship with Yossi Cohen, the director of the Mossad, Israel’s external spy service. The two men talk often, making it difficult to believe that Mr. Pompeo had no idea about what was coming, if indeed it was an Israeli operation.

Just as the strike was happening, Mr. Cohen’s term was extended for six months by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, interpreted by many as a sign of things to come, since Mr. Cohen is a veteran of Iran operations. He was a key player in the sophisticated series of cyberstrikes known as Olympic Games that took out nearly 1,000 operating centrifuges at Natanz — near the site of last week’s explosion and fire — a decade ago. And as chief of Mossad, he directed the covert seizure of the secret nuclear archive.

In some way it feels a bit like a decade ago, when the George W. Bush administration handed off the cyberoperations to the Obama administration, part of a broad covert effort to cripple Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, the Israelis were killing Iranian scientists. The idea was not only to slow the program, but also to turn the Iranians against one another, constantly suspecting that there were spies in their midst.

This time, there are several new elements.

Mr. Trump is an unpredictable player, who has often threatened Iran — and just as often pulled back from striking it. And the Iranian leaders who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with President Barack Obama are on the ropes in Tehran, assailed for having given away too much, only to discover that Washington was reimposing sanctions.

At the White House, Mr. Trump’s top national security advisers are hardly of one mind over when and how to confront Iran.

Military leaders, including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been wary of a sharp military escalation, warning it could further destabilize the Middle East when Mr. Trump has said he hopes to reduce the number of American troops in the region.

Pentagon officials nervously cited at least two potential flash points that could drag American forces into a military clash with Iran or Iranian-backed proxies in the Persian Gulf region.

One focuses on those oil tankers. Justice Department and F.B.I. officials announced last week that they had used a counterterrorism statute to obtain a warrant to seize Iranian oil products aboard the four tankers bound for Venezuela in violation of American sanctions. Investigators determined that the fuel cargo aboard the Greek-owned ships were assets of Iran’s Guards Corps, which the Trump administration last year designated as a terrorist organization. General Suleimani was commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Administration officials said this week that the State, Justice and Treasury Departments were seeking to work with the Greek government to halt the shipments, and have the fuel be offloaded. Iran’s mission to the United Nations immediately declared any such seizure would amount to “piracy.”

Two of the ships are believed to be in the Aegean Sea. But the two others are steaming in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, and are under close surveillance, an American military official said.

Some American officials worry that if the two tankers comply with the U.S. court order to give up the fuel, Iranian naval forces could challenge the transfer to another ship. It is not entirely clear what United States Navy warships in the area would do if that happened.

Another potential flash point is in Iraq, where Iranian-backed militia are believed to be responsible for a steadily increasing series of rocket attacks at the American Embassy in Baghdad and on American and coalition forces near Baghdad’s international airport.

After General Suleimani’s death, Tehran and Washington traded modest strikes in March. But then, tensions appeared to ease — until early June.
“We’re seeing a beginning of a spike in unprovoked rocket attacks on Iraqi bases that host U.S. forces in Iraq,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, said last month.

For now, the latest rocket attacks have been more harassing than harmful.
 

TsAr

THINK TANK
Joined
Sep 3, 2019
Messages
911
Reactions
7 2,522 57
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
This was a major attack on Iran's nuclear facilities after Stuxnet attack.
 
Top