Iran and Israel’s shadow war takes a dangerous turn and threatens to derail Biden’s diplomacy as Iran suspends cooperation with EU in various fields over sanctions.
Iran, vowing revenge, blamed Israel for sabotaging its key Natanz nuclear site — that appeared to be the latest episode in a long-running covert war.
Breaking News: Intelligence officials said an explosion at a key nuclear site could prevent Iran from enriching uranium for months, and confirmed an Israeli role, reports The New York Times in a tweet.
“This is not the first time Israel has been accused of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, but this IS the first time that Israel has hinted at its ‘involvement’. To save face, Iran may feel obliged to act in some fashion, but how far will it elect to go, when its primary interests is to revive the JCPOA with full participation of all signatory-states including Iran itself, and the USA? While Israel, very strongly opposed to the JCPOA, will likely act to sabotage the Agreement’s full restoration, Iran will seek to bring all participants into compliance. The attack once again proves that Tehran is unable to seal its nuclear program and installations from Israeli-US intel penetration. So, I’d expect a more symbolic response which will both save face and allow the JCPOA negotiations to continue. Only if Israel acts again will Tehran feel forced to escalate”. (Asia-Pacific based security and geopolitical analyst)
Iran’s semi-official Nournews website said Monday the person who caused an electricity outage in one of the production halls at the underground uranium enrichment plant –that damaged the centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium there, had been identified. “Necessary measures are being taken to arrest this person,” the website reported, without giving details about the person.
The incident occurred amid diplomatic efforts by Iran and the United States to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, an accord Israel fiercely opposed, after former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned it three years ago.
Last week, Iran and the global powers held what they described as “constructive” talks to salvage the deal, which has unraveled as Iran has breached its limits on sensitive uranium enrichment since Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian authorities described the incident a day earlier as an act of “nuclear terrorism” and said Tehran reserved the right to take action against the perpetrators.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explicitly blamed Israel. “The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions… We will not fall into their trap…We will not allow this act of sabotage to affect the nuclear talks,” Zarif was quoted by state TV as saying.
“But we will take our revenge against the Zionists.”
Multiple Israeli media outlets have quoted unnamed intelligence sources as saying the country’s Mossad spy service carried out a successful sabotage operation (cyberattack) at the underground Natanz complex, potentially setting back enrichment work there by months. Israel has not formally commented on the incident.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met on Sunday with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, has vowed to do everything in his power to stop the nuclear deal.
Natanz has been targeted by sabotage in the past. The Stuxnet computer virus, discovered in 2010 and widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation, once disrupted and destroyed Iranian centrifuges at Natanz during an earlier period of Western fears about Tehran’s program.
The uranium enrichment facility is 250 km (155 miles) south of the Iranian capital Tehran.
Iranian nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said an emergency power system had been activated at Natanz to offset the outage. “Enrichment of uranium has not stopped in the site.”