Extensive damage reported after power supply disrupted at Natanz nuclear facility in Iran; intelligence sources say Mossad carried out sabotage operation.
A mysterious malfunction at the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz was apparently caused by Mossad, Western intelligence experts estimated Sunday. The sabotage operation was designed to paralyze entire systems at the secretive site, the experts believe.
An initial assessment reported by N12 News pointed to indications of a cyber attack. However, other sources speculated that the covert operation was not executed with cyber tools.
Later, officials in Iran and elsewhere circulated different versions of the events in Natanz. According to one account, Mossad was able to smuggle in an explosive-laden table into the nuclear site more than a year ago, and only detonated it now.
According to subsequent reports, an explosion destroyed thousands of centrifuges in the underground facility. Israeli media outlets cited unnamed sources claiming that Tehran’s nuclear program suffered a major setback. However, there were no confirmed accounts of the full scope of the damage or the exact cause of the blast.
Extensive damage reported
Shortly after news of the Natanz incident broke, The Jerusalem Post reported that it was not the result of an “accident” as Tehran first claimed. The damage caused by the malfunction is much greater than Iran admitted, the report said, without revealing its sources.
In parallel, an Iranian official tweeted that the malfunction at Natanz was “very suspicious.” Officials in Tehran subsequently referred to the incident as a terror attack. Earlier, Iran’s state television confirmed a breakdown of the electric grid at the facility.
Tehran claimed that there were no injuries in the incident and said that authorities are investigating the cause of the problem.
Rapid Israeli response?
Notably, the malfunction occurred a day after Iran announced that it was activating advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges in Natanz.
The timing of the incident at the nuclear site is curious, Mideast commentator Zvi Yehezkeli told 103 FM Radio. He also noted that Israel’s alleged attack on an Iranian spy ship near Yemen coincided with nuclear talks between Iran and the West in Vienna.
The latest incidents suggest a rapid response mode ever since President Joe Biden took office, Yehezkeli said, without explicitly attributing the attacks to Israel. Whoever is hitting Iranian targets is demonstrating quick reaction time, he said.
The alleged Israeli attack weakens Iran’s leverage in nuclear talks with the West, military analyst Alon Ben-David tweeted Sunday evening. US officials quietly expressed satisfaction with the outcome via defense and intelligence communication channels, he reported.
Previously, several Israeli experts expressed concerns about the US approach to talks with Iran.
IDF chief’s message
Meanwhile, military chief Aviv Kochavi made vague remarks in a speech Sunday morning, without directly addressing the latest developments.
“The IDF’s actions in the Middle East are not hidden from the eyes of the enemies who watch it, see our capabilities, and weigh their moves carefully,” the army chief said.
Israel has been disrupting Iran’s nuclear program for years via secret operations, according to speculations and foreign reports. The actions attributed to Israel include suspected cyber attacks and assassinations of prominent nuclear scientists. Mossad is believed to play a central role in these and other efforts.